HAPPY SCRUM MASTER BOOKLIST: SCRUM – THE ART OF DOING TWICE THE WORK IN HALF THE TIME – JEFF SUTHERL
Updated: Feb 26
Reading is very important to me, so I’m always on the look-out for a good book. Last year, I challenged you to try Xtrem Reading because it’s the perfect way to help you identify those books out of the many books available that are actually worth your time. And, oh man, there are sooooo many good books out there. So this year, I’m challenging myself: I’m going to read one book per week. Yes, that’s right, one book each and every week for an entire year. I wouldn’t be the Happy Scrum Master if I wouldn’t share not only my favourite games but also my favourite books with you.
This month’s book is: ‘The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time’ by Jeff Sutherland
It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? Before I was going to review a book about Scrum. I’m the Happy Scrum Master after all. Scrum is my bread and butter, my ultimate dream job, the framework that helps me achieve my personal and business goals. It’s my life! And I’ll be discussing not any book but a book written by Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, or the founding father of Scrum as I sometimes call him. He’s the guy that got the ball rolling and helped create this wonderful framework. So yes, definitely another one of my personal heroes!
There are plenty of books out there that will help you understand what Scrum is and how to use it but not that many books that explain not the what but the how and why of Scrum. Scrum is still relatively unknown and there’s quite a few people out there who may have heard of Scrum but think it’s just this weird, nerdy IT-thing and who have never even stopped to consider if it could work for their own company. That’s if they’re even convinced it works at all. Jeff wrote this book specifically to show the world that that’s simply not true. Jeff is known for being approachable and this book is exactly that. It’s written as if he’s talking to you. In the same clear and easy to understand way. I even have a signed copy! Although, I’ll admit that I found it in a thrift shop. He hasn’t actually signed it for me personally.
This book is Scrum 1-0-1. This book is a must-read when you’re thinking about working with Scrum. What am I saying? This is a book that everybody should read! Period! In the book he tells the story of how Scrum came into being, its origins, the history and he provides a lot of examples of companies and organisations that have successfully implemented Scrum. And a lot of those companies are definitely not made up of nerdy geeks hiding out in darkened rooms looking at multiple screens.
A friend of mine, who’s not into IT or Scrum, read the book and her first reaction was: ‘Why isn’t everybody doing this?’ And came up with the answer herself: because you have to continuously keep working to improve your operational processes, you have to continue working to keep the momentum going. It’s not as if you can get on the train and go along for the ride. That’s the thing about Scrum. In order to get the results you’re after, you’ll have to put in the work first. Or as Jeff puts it: Scrum is simple to understand but difficult to master. Jeff compares this to Shu Ha Ri, a concept taken from the Japanese martial art Aikido that refers to the different levels of mastery. It’s a cyclic process of continuously improving yourself in order to ascend to the next level of mastery. First, you learn to work according to the rules, then you learn how to make innovations to improve the rules and finally you’ll no longer need the rules because they’ve been so ingrained into your processes that you’re finally at that stage where you can get on that train and go along for the ride. But just as it takes years and years of hard work and practice to become an Aikido master, it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to that point where Scrum has become this effortless endeavour. But, if you look at the successes obtained by the companies that are using Scrum, isn’t it worth it? I truly believe it is. And I’m also convinced that this is the way forward for any company or organisation that wants to be successful.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Scrum is that it’s not a management tool but a framework. It’s designed to make difficult and complex problems easier to understand by dividing them in a series of smaller challenges that can then be addressed to solve that big problem. If anything, Scrum is an anti-management tool. It’s designed to make the most of the Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose of your employees. Basically, you shouldn’t be managing them but rather supporting them so you can all work towards achieving the same goal.
I not only use it for work, but in my personal life as well. The framework and cyclic approach help me get things done. We just bought a house, using Scrum. We are planning to move to that house using Scrum. My father’s funeral? You guessed it, it was organised using Scrum. The structure it provides helped us deal with all the emotions and still get the job done. It makes things so much easier to manage and it requires you to use skills that, quite frankly, everybody should be taught as a child. In my head, I’ll automatically start filling a Scrum Board every time I come up with some new project. I’m so passionate about Scrum that a colleague who I thought would make a great Scrum Master was convinced that I was trying to get him to sign up to some MLM scheme!!! ☺
This is also one of those books every Scrum Master – make that everybody who’s working in a Scrum environment – should reread every once in a while to remind themselves why they’ve chosen to use Scrum. Even if you’ve gotten to the ‘hop on the train’-phase it’s good to refresh your memory occasionally. The same goes for the Scrum Guide, even though it’s only 17 pages. It’s good to refresh your memory every once in a while to stay on top of your game. This is why I’ll go over the Handball Rules & Regulations at least once a year, just to refresh my memory and make sure, that as a referee, I’m interpreting those rules correctly. And I can say with confidence that I know my rules. Oh, believe me, I do! But there’s always one or two that don’t come into play that often and as a result sometimes slip through the cracks.
So, if you’re interested in Scrum, or simply haven’t read this book in a while? Make some time to read this book. It’ll be worth it! I promise!