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Scrum with XP

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Scrum Requires a Mindset Change by the Client

The initial use of Scrum is intimidating for any member of senior management (project managers and above). It's a significant departure from methodologies that have become the norm throughout the industry, and thus requires a change in mindset for management. Most management is used to directing the project, telling the team what to do and then ensuring that they do it. Scrum and XP rely on self-organization, with the team deciding what to do while management runs interference and removes roadblocks.

We've encountered this mindset change before, but it was particularly noticeable in this project. The project manager was consumed with trying to figure out who would be doing what. She also was occupied by trying to get the development environment into place. The team sat passively, waiting for their assignments. During the workshop we had the customer and team determine what to tackle for the first Sprint. Then we asked the team to figure out what it had to do to build this functionality. We then stood back. The project manager initially tried to hand out assignments and defer some work that she hadn't done yet, but we asked her to stand aside—this was the team's job. The team suddenly started talking—brainstorming, plotting, scheming, planning how to get this code built. They explored various alternatives, got to know each other, and devised their work plan. The team experienced an epiphany, as they realized they were free to proceed however they chose. The manager experienced an epiphany, as she realized that she didn't have to tell the team what to do (and ensure that it was done). Her new job was helping the team, expediting their work and removing any impediments. They were all cooperating and optimizing each other.

We were lucky in that we had full support from senior management, allowing the project to move ahead very quickly with little impedance from other parts of the organization. A great deal has already been written on this topic, and the reader is referred to our book, Agile Software Development with Scrum (Prentice Hall, 2001, ISBN 0-13-067634-9), for a more in-depth discussion.

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