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“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

(generally attributed to George Bernard Shaw)

I call myself an independent Scrum Caretaker. It reflects who I am, how I feel, what I do: caring for Scrum AND caring for people. It is my identity in the sense that it defines me professionally in my relationship to the world.

I call myself an independent Scrum Caretaker on a journey of humanizing the workplace with Scrum. That reflects what drives me. It is my personal why. It is also an infinite game. …

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Scrum turns 25 in October 2020. Hip hip hooray!

It is a good opportunity to share a few highlights from the past 17 years of my life as an independent Scrum Caretaker — of “My life of Scrum” (since 2003).

September 2003. The founding managers of our company ask me to have a look at the challenge of delivering the (Java-based) core server platform for a large digital television implementation (one of the first in Europe at a bigger scale). Due to longer negotiations and delayed sign-offs, the project is already late before the real work has even started. Two software architects give me a 15-minutes introduction of eXtreme Programming. I fall for it. Completely. The urgency and feeling of crisis is also such that we are allowed to start applying it. We throw away all existing plans, create an ordered pile of User Stories, get together a great gang of developers, and go to work in iterations of 3 weeks. We apply eXtreme Programming all the way. Later, we add Scrum to our approach.

Six Essential Traits of the Game

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Apparently, it is easy to get stuck at interpreting the rules of Scrum. In the publication “Moving Your Scrum Downfield” (available as a free PDF) I have described the six essential traits of the game to help you get unstuck and up your game. As they express rather intrinsic and implicit principles, they are too often disregarded. Yet, they are needed for a more unconsidered performance of Scrum, which allows minding the goal of the game-push back the old adversary of predictive rigidity-rather than the rules. These six essential traits are indicative of Scrum coming to life.

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Having worked with Scrum since 2003, I am fascinated by its ever-expanding use, which is not limited to software and (new) product development. …

“Scrum — A Pocket Guide” in five episodes

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Ever since the accidental creation of my book “Scrum — A Pocket Guide” in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I’ve been receiving inquiries about an audiobook version. So far, I have not been able to make that happen but the 2020 pandemic storm got me into implementing the audio idea in a different form.

In five subsequent daily broadcasts I have read all chapters from my pocket guide to Scrum.

In Episode 1 (49:07) I have read:
Foreword by Ken Schwaber
1.1 To shift or not to shift
1.2 The origins of Agile
1.3 Definition of Agile
1.4 The iterative-incremental continuum
1.5 …

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Ever since the accidental creation of my book Scrum — A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion) in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I frequently receive inquiries about the availability of an audiobook version.

Although I see value in the idea, I have not been able to make it happen so far.

Given the current pandemic storm, forcing many friends of Scrum to remain at home, I decided to implement upon the audio idea in a slightly adjusted form.

Starting Tuesday 24 March 2020, I have planned a first series of five “ Daily Scrum Pocketcasts.” In subsequent daily broadcasts I will read my Scrum Pocket Guide front to back. I will do a reading session on working days at 3 pm CET (Central European Time), with each session continuing were the previous session ended. The sessions are open for 100 attendants. Registered attendants can send me questions about the book, or parts of it. I plan to read for 30–45 minutes every day after which I hope I can address questions related to the chapter(s) of the day. …

Perspectives of an independent Scrum Caretaker on a mision to humanize the workplace

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The United Nations’ World Health Organization (“WHO”) correctly describes “Covid-19” as the disease caused by the “SARS-CoV-2” virus, a new variant within the Corona family of viruses. A Covid-19 infection typically shows through symptoms of fever combined with respiratory problems — a dry cough, shortness of breath, and (severe) breathing difficulties. As we speak, Covid-19 is exponentially spreading across large parts of the world, infecting frightening numbers of individuals. Although “Corona” actually is the name of the family of viruses, references to the current pandemic outbreak typically are “Corona (something).”

Beyond anything else, my thoughts are in the first place with individuals that are infected, whether they are quarantined in hospital, at home, or elsewhere. And I think of their loved ones and the people that are taking care of them — professionally or privately.

There is more to Scrum than a set of rules. The rules of Scrum and their underlying principles are complemented by the Scrum Values.

With Scrum, a framework is created upon which people and organizations develop a working process that is specific and appropriate to their time and context. The rules and principles of Scrum all serve empiricism, or empirical process control, offering closed-loop feedback control, as most optimal for dealing with complex challenges in complex circumstances.

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There is however more than the rules and the principles. Scrum is more about behavior than it is about process. The framework of Scrum is based upon five core values. Although these values were not invented as a part of Scrum, and are not exclusive to Scrum, they do give direction to the work, behavior and actions in Scrum (when understood appropriately against the background of complexity and empiricism). …

(that will help you optimize your Scrum)

Scrum, in its more general definition, is a simple framework to help us address complex challenges. Product development is the subset of complex problem domains where Scrum took root first; by explicitly acknowledging software and new product development to be complex work, serving to deliver complex products in complex circumstances.

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Scrum is increasingly being discovered as a simple framework to address complex problems and situations other than software and product development. More and different people, teams and organizations ask for guidance and support on their journey of Scrum, no matter the nature of their problem. Organizations discover that fighting complexity with complexity is not helping. Too much waste, organizational redundancy and fundamental impediments remain unaddressed by the overly complex approaches that organizations use. No sustainable agility is achieved. …

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I call myself a Scrum Caretaker. I aspire inspiring people using Scrum. I prefer sharing positive experiences and cases that demonstrate how amazing working with Scrum can be, what problems can be tackled and how, the level of excellence we can build into our products, how Scrum can engage people. Ultimately I hope to help people employ Scrum to re-humanize their workplace, together with many engaged Scrum practitioners across the world that care too.

But it regularly dawns on us — the many, many misconceptions that exist over Scrum. We feel provoked to try to correct the recurring and worrying interpretations of Scrum that are out there. Sometimes that is fun. Often it is not. It can be energizing. In general it drains us. A few lifetimes can be spent fighting that battle. …

Albeit having no graphical skills, I understand the power of visualization.

In 2011 I intuitively used a house as a representation and metaphor for Scrum and an environment of Scrum; like a team’s space and beyond. I used the “house of Scrum” I thus created in the 1st edition and 2nd edition of my book “Scrum — A Pocket Guide” (2013–2019).

Today it still expresses my intuition. But repeatedly being asked “Why a house?” became an invitation to put words to my intuition.

A house, indeed. When I get asked why a house, people often point me to other representations that in my view are more of a temple. And, while temples may be great environments, they are places where people go for silence, step out of the world for a while, to meditate, to pray, or to worship and worse. To represent an environment of Scrum, I like a house more. A house is a place where people live, talk, share emotions, do stuff, interact, collaborate. …


Gunther Verheyen

Ullizee. The Illusion of Ulysses by the Sea. Love, books, music, family. Independent Scrum Caretaker. Author of “Scrum - A Pocket Guide”.

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