My Top Hat Talk is coming up soon! If you haven’t registered, you can do so here and join us on Thursday, November 27th, at 12 noon ET. Last week I talked to Amita at Top Hat about my inspiration for Agile Faculty and how I apply the strategies I write about in my own faculty work. Check it out!
No! Agile Faculty explores how to adapt the values, framework, and strategies of Scrum to all aspects of faculty work. Scrum is popping up all over the place, moving from software into a variety of industries ranging from publishing, marketing, research and development, and non-profits. This Tech Republic article provides quick case studies of how Agile is being used by non-technical teams, and this article on the OpenView company blog discusses how Scrum can help and be adapted by non-technical teams as well. And this McKinsey report looks specifically at how Scrum can be adapted by marketing organizations; how they suggest adapting the Scrum team structure is particularly interesting.
Scrum is also making its way into education spaces like those I discuss in Agile Faculty. Computing sciences and engineering programs have been teach Agile and Scrum for quite a while, but more recently, some of the biggest inroads for the framework are in K-12 education.
- Agile coach and consultant John Miller founded Agile Classrooms to train teachers to use Scrum with their elementary and middle grades students, with pretty interesting results.
- Scrum trainer and entrepreneur Michael Vizdos has also started a community project to bring Scrum into schools; his simple website provides some good case studies of this work.
- The Agile Learning Centers program is setting up alternative schools around the US.
- And perhaps the most well-established and compelling of these initiatives, eduScrum, was founded in the Netherlands and has spread over Europe and the United States.
All of these people and programs are dedicated to bringing the Agile growth mindset and focus on doing small things completely to complete large projects later to disrupt education today. Their results so far have been inspiring.
In industry, Scrum teams have four meetings, or rituals, per sprint: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. The Planning meetings is self-explanatory, and the Review meeting is essentially a demo of the work completed in the sprint to internal and external stakeholders. Of course, Agile Faculty might choose to use all or none of the ritual meetings, but I find the Daily Scrum and Retrospective meetings most useful in my faculty work.
- What have I done since we last met to work toward our team commitments?
- What am I working on today to work toward our team commitments?
- What might be keeping me from completing our commitment (or where could I use some help)?
Conversation is limited to only the answers to these three questions from each team member because Daily Scrum, or “stand-up,” is a commitment meeting rather than a status meeting. These questions remind the team that they are all working toward the same goal and they can help each other achieve it. Agile Faculty can use Daily Scrum meetings with students working on team projects, research collaborators, service project groups.
I have, on occasion, used the Daily Scrum questions on myself, just to reaffirm my goals and review my progress. If I’m stuck, I can articulate that to myself and determine who and how to ask for support.
I love Retrospective meetings because rather than focusing on product, these meetings review the success of current process. Teams meet to discuss how well they collaborated over the previous sprint, held each other accountable and supported each other, practiced trust and respect. Based on that discussion, they commit to one or two specific ways to improve their teamwork in the next sprint.
There are lots of different activities you can use for a lively and honest retrospective. One of my favorites is the starfish because it focuses on a spectrum of activities rather than just good and bad. The website Fun Retrospectives has a host of different activities as does the website of this Agile consultant.
Agile Faculty is all about adapting Scrum strategies for faculty work. But where did Agile and Scrum come from in the first place?
Agile as we know it originated in 2001. A group of software developers, all proponents of different development strategies, gathered to relax at a mountain retreat and ultimately discussed better ways to practice effective, values-driven, collaborative work. The resulting statement, The Agile Manifesto, signed by all 17 attendees, really focuses not just on changing workflow, but on changing organizational culture – valuing people, community, trust, and respect more than anything. The Agile Alliance, as the group came to call themselves, also developed a set of 12 Agile principles to further guide software development. Signatory Jim Highsmith provides an interesting history of the retreat that resulted in the Manifesto here.
What About Scrum? Who Created It?
The Agile framework Scrum was the creation of Dr. Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, both signatories of The Agile Manifesto. (Follow Sutherland and Schwaber on Twitter.) Sutherland based his early version of Scrum on his work with empirical process control theory. Schwaber had been developing a similar system on his own, so the two combined their ideas and created Scrum. Below, Schwaber talks about the origins of Scrum from his perspective.
The term “Scrum,” in this case, is not an acronym but a direct reference to the rugby move. The reference was coined by authors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in a 1986 Harvard Business Review article entitled “The New New Product Development Game,” in which they compare high-functioning cross-functional teams to a rugby squad executing a scrum move during a match. Sutherland and Schwaber borrowed the term for their Agile development process.
Jeff Sutherland has expanded Scrum beyond software development contexts, most recently in his 2014 book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. He also talks about Scrum in his 2014 TED Aix talk below.