Matthieu’s Playbook

Over the years, people occasionally came to me and said things like, “We wrote down all of our process in a doc.  Can you look it over and tell us if it’s right?”  I was cringing before they even asked me to be some sort of Agile Judge.  I’d scream in my own head, “Writing it all down misses the point!”  But here I am writing down ideas of process and practice.  What gives?

Part of the genius of the Agile Manifesto is that it doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. It gives you a resilient foundation of values and principles that is grounded in discovered truths, and then lets you figure out how to apply it. Scrum describes process a bit more, but still leaves a lot of open questions. That means that these ideas can flex to just about any situation.  So why do I want to go messing it up by defining that process more prescriptively?

I’ve seen that people just getting started find it all daunting. Even after going through Certified ScrumMaster training, new practitioners may be a little lost as to what exactly to do next.  A year or so ago, I happened to work with three new teams in quick succession.  I realized I was recommending the same basic set of concrete practices to get them started, and I took the scary step of writing them down.

I’ve gone on to present these ideas publicly (AgileDC 2018, Agile Denver’s MileHighAgile 2019).  When sharing the playbook, I’ve done so with some important notes:

  • The playbook is temporary scaffolding.  This is not supposed to be your new process forever.  Your team will grow in its own direction.  As soon as it has outlived this playbook, throw it out!!
  • The playbook is meant as a coherent set, but can be used a la carte.  The set of practices outlined are what I like to use to ensure that the flywheel of continuous improvement is turning.  I think that failing to address any one of the problems that I target (see the gray background “villain” slides) risks undermining your continuous improvement practice.  That said, the tools might be useful to you individually, and if that’s the way you feel it makes sense to use them, I think that’s great.
  • Feedback is welcome! I shared the doc as a Google Slides presentation with comment rights for all users.  If you have a question or comment about something, ask it via the commenting feature (or just contact me), and I’ll do my best to respond/adjust the presentation.

Good luck!

Matthieu’s Playbook: Tried and True Patterns for Kickstarting Scrum Teams New and Old

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