Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thoughts after Jeff Sutherland at ACCU London

Jeff Sutherland was back in London last week and was good enough to give a talk to ACCU London. As one of the organisers of the ACCU London events I feel I’m justified in giving myself (and my co-organiser James Slaughter) a well deserved pat on the back. This was something of a coup for us.

Over 80 people registered for the event - in fact there was a waiting list of people we couldn’t fit in - and I counted at least 70 people in attendance.

As this event was somewhat bigger than our usual events we had to find a bigger room. Fortunately JP Morgan came to the rescue with a room at the top of their London tower. So not only did we have Jeff but we had a great view of London. Thanks JP Morgan!

Jeff is a good presenter and had some interesting things to say. Although I know most of the Scrum-stuff I still picked up some good information. A few points I thought writing down:

• When Scrum was introduced at Palm it was found that 1 hour of postponed testing resulted in 23 hours of testing later.
• The Chaos reports from the Standish group find that 76% of requirements change after a project has started.
• Data from Yahoo shows that teams adopting Scrum on their own show a 35% productivity improvement. Teams which are coached through Scrum adoption shows a 300-400% improvement. Good news for those of us like me who make a living as an Agile Coach, usually with Scrum. (For those who want it the original source of this statistic is "Rolling Out Agile at a Large Enterprise" by Gabrielle Benefield at the Hawaii International Conference on Software System, 2008.)
• Not only does Jeff endorse the addition of XP technical practices (TDD, refactoring, pair-programming, etc.) to Scrum he believes these are what allow Scrum to scale up. This is important as it fits in with Bob Martin’s comments at the ACCU conference last month.

At the end of the session there was a very good Q&A session - so good we ran out of time and had to cut it short.

In response to one question Jeff mentioned a paper he wrote a couple of years ago called The Future of Scrum. What is interesting here is, Jeff foresees changes in the way Scrum is practices. This contradicts with Ken Schwaber’s statement that “There is only on Scrum.”

I don’t want to get into fighting about whether there is one Scrum, or a future Scrum or what ever. What I think is interesting here is that there are different views on the subject.

While the Agile community as a whole sometimes seems unable to agree on “what is Agile” the Scrum community seems steel like in their understanding of what Scrum is. The truth, for both groups, is somewhere between the two extremes.


  1. Any chance of getting more specific references for the numbers? Eg Palm testing & specific Standish reports. Thx.

  2. I didn't note any more details or references down. Some of the references were spoken and some were in the slides.

    The slides are available on his website:


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