The Scrum Field Guide

Amazon Highlights

"This book is a detailed introduction into Scrum and Agile methodologies for teams thinking about becoming efficient."
Robb Reid 

"The Scrum Field Guide should not be your resource for learning and/or beginning to implement Scrum. It is the book you should turn to when you need to rescue your Scrum implementation."
Shane Willerton

"I think the book is really good. I ordered a copy for everyone on my team. As a developer/manager hybrid, I was struggling with the best ways to build software as a team, maintaining the quality we needed, document, etc. The book gave me lots of confidence to continue growing my team."
A. Schaible

Why I Wrote The Scrum Field Guide

When my daughter Emma was born, I felt out of my depth. We seemed to be at the doctor’s office much more than we had been with our other children. I kept asking my wife, “Is this normal?” One night, I found my wife’s copy of What to Expect the First Year on my pillow with a note from her, “Read this. You’ll feel better.”

And I did. Knowing that everything we were experiencing was normal for my child, even if it wasn’t typical for me, or observed before, made me feel more confident and secure. This was right around the same time I was starting to experiment with Scrum and agile. As I started to encounter obstacles and run into unfamiliar situations, I began to realize that what I really needed was a What to Expect book for the first year of Scrum and XP.

The problem is, unlike a What to Expect book, I can’t tell you exactly what your team should be doing or worrying about during months 1-3 or 9-12. Teams, unlike children, don’t develop at a predictable rate. Instead, they often tumble, stumble, and bumble their way through their first year, taking two steps forward and one step back as they learn to function as a team, adopt agile engineering practices, build trust with their customers, and work in an incremental and iterative fashion.

With this in mind, I chose to structure this book with more of a “I’ve got a pain here, what should I do” approach. I’ve collected stories about teams I’ve been a part of or witnessed in their first year of agile life. As I continued down my agile path, I noticed the stories, the patterns in the companies, were usually similar. I would implement an idea in one company and tweak it for the next. In repeating this process, I ended up with a collection of real-world solutions that I now carry in my virtual tool belt. In this book, I share some of the most common pains and solutions with you. When your team is hurting or in trouble, you can turn to the chapter that most closely matches your symptoms and find, if not a cure, at least a way to relieve the pain.

The Scrum Field Guide is meant to help you fine-tune your own implementation, navigate some of the unfamiliar terrain, and more easily scale the hurdles we all encounter along the way.

Who Should Read The Scrum Field Guide

If you are thinking about getting starting with Scrum or agile, are at the beginning of your journey, or if you have been at it a year or so but feel like you’ve gotten lost along the way, this book is for you. I’m officially targeting companies that are within six months of starting a project to those that are a year into their implementation, an 18-month window.

This is a book for people who are pragmatic. If you want theory and esoteric discussions, grab another of the many excellent books on Scrum and agile. If, on the other hand, you want practical advice and real data based on my experience running projects both at Microsoft and while coaching teams and consulting at large Fortune 100 companies, this book fits the bill.

How to Read The Scrum Field Guide

The book is designed for you to be able to read any chapter, in any order, at any time. Each chapter starts out with a story, pulled from a team, company, or project that I worked on or coached. As you might expect, I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent (and even the guilty). Once you read the story, which will likely sound familiar, I walk you through the model. The model is what I use in the field to help address the issues evident in the story. Some of the models might feel uncomfortable, or you might believe they won’t work for your company. I urge you to fight the instinct to ignore the advice or modify the model. Try it at least three times and see what happens. You might be surprised. At the end of each chapter, I summarize the keys to success, those factors that can either make or break your implementation.

This book is organized in four parts.

  • Part I, “Getting Prepared,” gives you advice on getting started with Scrum, helping you set up for success. If you are just thinking about Scrum or have just begun to use it, start there.
  • Part II, “Field Guide Field Basics in the Field,” are items that, once you get started down the agile path, help you over some of the initial stumbling blocks that teams and organizations encounter. If you’ve gotten your feet wet with Scrum but are running into issues, you might start here.
  • Part III, “First Aid,” is where we deal with some of the larger, deeper issues that companies face, like adding people to projects or fixing dysfunctional daily standup meetings. These are situations you’ll likely find yourself in at one point or another during your first year. These chapters help you triage and treat the situation, allowing your team to return to a healthy state.
  • The last part, Part IV, “Advanced Survival Techniques,” contains a series of items that people seem to struggle with regardless of where they are in their adoption, things such as costing projects, writing contacts, and addressing documentation in agile and Scrum projects.
    If you are starting from scratch and have no idea what Scrum is, I’ve included a short description in the appendix at the back of the book to help familiarize you with the terms. You might also want to do some more reading on Scrum before diving into this book.

Why You Should Read The Scrum Field Guide

Regardless of where we are on our agile journey, we all need a friendly reminder that what we are experiencing is normal, some suggestions on how to deal with it, and a few keys for success. This book gives you all that in a format that allows you to read only the chapter you need, an entire section, or the whole thing. Its real-life situations will resonate with you, and its solutions can be applied by any team. Turn the page and read the stories. This field guide will become a trusted companion as you experience the highs and lows of Scrum and Extreme Programming.

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