Agile Company: Constructing your Way in the 21st Century

Free workshops and community on the challenges and rewards of being Agile!

The Agile Company is a community and monthly event for people who are looking for better ways of organizing their companies, better ways of creating create products, and better ways of delighting customers. If you’re into Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Lean Startup, Radical Management, Beyond Budgeting, Stoos or just finding your own better way, this is the place for you!

This month: Constructing your Way in the 21st Century using LEGO® Serious Play®

Steve Holyer

Steve Holyer

You’re building a company that’s ready for the future and quick to delight customers today. What impediments block your way?  And, how will you remove or go around them? Forget about dogma, rules, and manifestos and unleash your imagination to construct a better way of managing the 21st Century organisation. Experience the power of discovery using the LEGO Serious Play materials and methods with an experienced facilitator.

You may have already seen LEGO used for business school simulations or in the workplace for 3-D data visualisation. LEGO Serious Play is a powerful facilitated approach to discover strategy, create change, or charter stronger projects and teams.

The LEGO Serious Play methods were developed by Johann Roos and Bart Victor at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne.

What can you expect?

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

A new experience on how to innovate effectively in your organization. A return to childhood. Possibly both! Serious Play has gotten serious attention in the Agile community as a way to teach, innovate, build trust and explore new ideas in a team setting. I’m looking forward to experiencing it first hand!

Steve Holyer is a well known Agile coach and trainer, and in particular is a licensed StrategicPlay® facilitator using LEGO Serious Play.

What else can you expect?

 As usual, we will have some wine, cheese and cold beer for informal discussion and networking after the workshop.

Who should attend?

This workshop is for managers and specialists at all levels who want to make their organizations more Agile. And if you’re looking to work more effectively with your software groups doing Agile, Scrum or Kanban, this will be particularly helpful. Come as a group of 3 or 4 people and start to generate ideas for transforming your organization for the better!


  • 14:00-17.00, including 30 minutes for Coffee and Registration, followed by an Apero til  about 19.00
  • Location: Training Room “Zürich-West”, Hardturmstrasse 181, Ground Floor, left. 8005 Zürich
  • There is no charge, but registration is required.

Coming Events

Watch this space for upcoming events!


Location / Directions

For directions see Training Room Zurich West.

Posted in Uncategorized

Practice makes perfect

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

As a Swiss-American Scrum Trainer, my customer’s success with Scrum is important to me!

How satisfied are the participants in my trainings? I watch this closely, and try to improve after every course.

I use Net Promoter Scores after each course to gauge satisfaction after each course. I just looked at the results for the 18 months that I have been a Certified Scrum Trainer.

Just as refresher, NPS divides customers into delighted customers (“Promoters”), merely satisfied (“passives”) and those who have something to complain about (“Detractors”). NPS, or Net Promoter Score, is the percentage of  Promoters less the percentage of Detractors. How do my results look?

Respondents NPS
October 12 to March 13 154 34%
April 13 to September 13 158 39%
October 13 to March 14 179 56%

Since NPS can vary between -100% and +100%, anything over 0% is good, and anything over +20% is very good. Numbers above 80% are reserved for companies like Apple at their finest.

The numbers show a nice trend. I’m not exactly Apple-cool yet, but moving in the right direction. :-)

Starting a few months ago, I have been asking participants how they would recommend the course to future participants. Here is are some of the more quotable statements from my most recent courses (March, 2014 in Lisbon):

  • If you are curious about Scrum, this is the right place to start!
  • A good start for a Scrum practice
  • If you want to experience Scrum, this is the course for you! — André Manuel Carmo Pereira Lima, Edições Asa II, SA
  • In two days, Peter gave me a full idea of the Scrum framework and how to apply it. Passionate and hands-on! — Carla Santos, InovaMais- Serv. Consultad. em Inov. Tecnológica, SA
  • Useful training even for people who already know Scrum! — Carlos Alexandre Vizela Pais de Faria, Banco BPI, Lisbon, March 2014A very nice point to start! — José Nicolau, 
  • Excellent Materials and Instructor. Nice new vision about old problems. — José Manuel Ramos Pinto de Sousa
  • Highly recommended, best way to get things done in time, organized and simple — José Miguel Sereno da Rocha Machado Espregueira
  • This workshop is a hands on approach that will challenge you to be better.
  • Participating in the workshop is an amazing experience, even if you are not a fan of Scrum. — Márcio Azevedo, Celfinet – Consultoria em Telecomunicações Lda
  • Excellent Trainer, very clear integration and interaction with the students. — Miguel Paulo O. Rosas Moreira, Cerealis SGPS, SA
  • Want to get your hands “dirty” with Scrum? This is the course! — Paulo Azevedo
  • The material is awesome! Tiago Neto Marreiros, Lisbon
  • Scrum is a great framework to improve ourselves and influence our team! — Andreia Figueiredo
  • If you want to do Scrum, start here!! — António Nunes, Media Capital SA
  • Ideal if you are looking to change your mindset! Carlos Carvalho, BNP Paribas
  • If you want to understand people and change yourself to do it, take this course! — Daniel Carrilho, Thyone
  • If you think you are effective, you should see how Scrum can prove you wrong!
  • This workshop will open your horizons, showing you a new way of doing things. It helped me see there’s a different world out there! José Carlos Ferreira
  • A breath of fresh air!
  • A practical course that allows you to experience and try Scrum — Maria Ferreira
  • Extremely useful. — Miguel Campião, Indexsquare, Lda, Lisbon,
  • I really believe I just increased my professional skills. — Paulo Alexandre Nunes da Costa
  • Great content, very hands-on. You’ll have fun! — Ricardo Manuel Amaro

And finally:

  • Read the course material before taking the course!

Like what you read? Check out Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Product Owner Trainings. Every Month in Zürich. Guaranteed

Posted in Feedback

Weekend CSM

Are you a consultant or contractor or someone else who can’t take time off from work to attend a course? This course is for you! A course on Saturday and Sunday, with a special low price for very early bookers. The course start earlier, to finish earlier, so you can get to your evening activities on Saturday (but don’t overdo it, because Sunday starts early)!

Super Early Bird Price: CHF 1’800.– instead of CHF 2’450 ends April 14, 2014!

Certified Scrum Master Training

Certified Scrum Master Training

“This workshop was a great experience! If I could, I would send the management and sales people to take this course too!”

– Andreas Zolliker, Software Engineer and Intense CSM Course Participant, Zurich, August 21, 2013

Learn Scrum by doing Scrum in a course managed with Scrum!

What do recent participants say about this course?

If you want not only to learn about Scrum, but experience it, then this is the course to book! — Hartmuth Gieldanowski, Zurich, February 3-4, 2014

If you want an entertaining and professional experience in Scrum, don’t hesitate! – A CSM Course Participant, Zurich, February 3-4, 2014

This course helped me get into Scrum in the only possible way – with Agility! — Jacques Panchard, Zurich, February 3-4, 2014

Sehr viel Praxis, Empfehlung, Vermittlung von Erfahrungen… weniger “reine” Theorie. — A CSM Course Participant, December 9-10, 2013

“Very clarifying and direct to the real problems of doing Scrum in the Software Development Business” – Tobias Abarbanell, CSM In-House Course Participant, Portugal, July 1-3, 2013

See more comments and overall satisfaction results here.

Certified ScrumMaster Courses

Click on Event Name for description/registration
Intense Certified Scrum Master (En/De) May 19,2014 9:00 am - May 20,2014 6:00 pm
Weekend CSM (En/De) Jun 14,2014 8:00 am - Jun 15,2014 5:00 pm
Intense Certified Scrum Master (En/De) Jul 7,2014 9:00 am - Jul 8,2014 6:00 pm

For the conditions of our Intense CSM Certified Scrum Master course, see the regular announcement!


Scrum is a simple team-based framework for solving complex problems (like software development). This course teaches you the mindset and the practices to make a simple vision into reality: That this project can be your best, most successful project ever!

You get an intense, personal training with much opportunity to work with the trainer and in small groups. This course is offered in German and English.

Peter-Stevens--195_150About Peter Stevens, Certified Scrum Trainer

As an experienced Scrum coach, trainer and mentor with a passion for helping organizations transform themselves to thrive in the 21st century, Peter Stevens have been training Scrum Masters, Scrum Developers and Scrum Product Owners in Switzerland and abroad since 2008. His coaching focus is on transforming organizations. “I teach teams, their leaders, their management and their stakeholders to do Scrum well, to understand Scrum deeply, and to live Scrum values.”

Peter is an engaged leader of the Agile community in Switzerland and worldwide. Most recently, he initiated the Stoos Gathering, an interdisciplinary summit to catalyze a lasting change in business management along Agile principles.


This Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course is intended for anyone involved in a Scrum Project, e.g. Developers, ScrumMasters, Product-Owners, Managers, Testers, Change Agents, Business Analysts, Project and Program Managers.


“It is important to read about Scrum before you come to the course….” — Ismael Saleh, Zürich, December 9-10, 2013

No special prerequisites. Familiarity with IT and/or Software Development Projects is helpful. All participants are expected to read a 10 page excerpt of “Do Better Scrum” by Peter Hundermark.


  • Scrum Principles and Values
  • Scrum Roles – Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team
  • Scrum Meetings, Sprint Planning & Review, Daily Scrum, Retrospective
  • Scrum Artifacts – Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment
  • Significance of “Definition of Done”
  • User Stories and Acceptance Criteria
  • Release Estimating and Planning with Story Points
  • Hands-on experience doing Scrum

Day 1 – Scrum Values and Principles

  • What makes an ideal project?
  • What is Scrum in 25 words or less?
  • Why is Scrum so different than traditional project management?
  • How and why does Scrum work?
  • What does it feel like to be in a Scrum Project?
  • How do you really do Scrum?
  • Why is focus essential to performance and success?

Day 2 – Scrum Core Practices and other Well Known Agile Practices

  • What are the roles in Scrum and how to they relate to established job functions?
  • What do managers do in a Scrum organization?
  • How do you specify and estimate work?
  • How do you plan and monitor a release? How do you hit a deadline?
  • How do you improve team performance with Scrum?
  • How do you handle big, distributed projects in Scrum? (Scaling)
  • How do you get started with Scrum? Sprint Zero and your first sprint.

Practical Details:

  • Location: Training Room “Zürich-West”, Hardturmstrasse 181, CH-8005 Zürich
  • Duration: 2 days.
  • Course language is English on request, German on consensus.


  • Coffee & Registration: 8.00am
  • Begin: 8.30am (prompt!)
  • End: 17.00 (5pm)

This course is held monthly in Zurich. All dates are guaranteed (even if you are the only participant).


All participants who actively participate in the entire course receive a confirmation of participation and qualify for Certification as a ScrumMaster by the Scrum Alliance. An additional test is required (which you can take from home on the web). The test fee and membership in the Scrum Alliance are included in your course costs.

Members of the PMI can claim 15 PDUs for successful completion of this course and apply this course towards meeting the requirement of the ACP.

Weekend CSM Pricing

Super Early Bird: CHF 1’800.– until April 14, 2014! No discounts apply.

Early bird: CHF 2’250.–, Regular CHF 2’450.– per person. SwissICT rebate CHF 450.– per person.

For regular Intensive CSM courses, see the regular announcement.

Further Training

The MasterClass Workshop on Scrum, Vision and Performance enables you to understand and improve the performance of your team in your organization, given that you are doing Scrum.

You may book master classes individually or together with a CSM or CSPO class at a discount.



Posted in Special Courses

Agile Company: Is Multitasking Evil?

The Agile Company Series

Workshop: Is Multitasking Evil?

Why do you have to multitask? How does it impact performance?

February 27, 2014, Afternoon and Early Evening

The Agile Company is a community of practitioners and thinkers looking for better ways to run business. Join us for an informal exchange among peers to explore … and solve … the challenges of running a modern business.

picture of Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

A recurring theme in my courses is that multitasking is hugely detrimental to personal, team & organizational performance. How detrimental? Well, one of the core messages from my Scrum courses is “Multitasking is evil!” But, you say, multitasking is unavoidable and necessary. It’s not possible to eliminate multitasking. What can I do?

A phase-driven or “waterfall” does in fact require systematic multitasking. In this interactive workshop, we will explore why this is the case, what the side effects are, and show how Scrum is a different architecture for developing software. We’ll do a simple simulation to illustrate the impact of multitasking. Finally, we will create some strategies for reducing multitasking in your actual situation.

Peter Stevens is an Entrepreneur and Certified Scrum Trainer. As the former, he is leading the creation of echobravo, the system to help businesses of all sizes solve the social media problem. As a CST, he teaches teams and organization to solve problems — the right problems — quickly and effectively. He initiated the Scrum Breakfast, which became the swissICT Lean-Agile-Scrum working group and co-founded the Stoos Movement to catalyze a lasting change in management.

Location: Training Room Zürich West, Hardturmstrasse 181, Zürich
Keywords:  Agile, Scrum, Enterprise, Management, Performance, Multitasking, Focus, Waterfall, Apéro

This event will be held in English unless we have a consensus to speak German.


Date: February 27, 2014

Admission is free! Registration is required.

15:00 Door Open / Welcome & Coffee
15:30 Peter Stevens - Is Multitasking Evil? Why the waterfall condemns us to chronic multitasking.
17:00 Apéro / Networking


Location / Directions

For directions see Training Room Zurich West.

Posted in Events

Agile Company: Lean Startup Changes Everything

The Agile Company Series

January 23, 2014, Afternoon and Early Evening


Why Lean Startup Changes Everything!

picuture Fredi Schmidli, Board Member of

Fredi Schmidli, Board Member of

The myth goes that the more perseverance, brilliance, good timing and a good product, the higher the chance for success. I will show you why exactly the opposite is true: Survival and, even more so, success are highly correlated with the successful application of the “Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop”. The fact that this lean framework can be learned and taught is the final kill of the myth. I will give examples of how you can deliver more business value earlier and with less risks by testing everything as soon as possible using a so-called Minimum Viable Product.

Fredi Schmidli is a free-spirited Entrepreneur, Business Angel and Leaders Coach. He sets up and invests in Startups in Health Care and ICT. Fredi’s passion is to make companies more successful by applying Agility to business processes throughout the whole hierarchy. In doing so, he focuses on working together with Owners, Entrepreneurs and Top Managers.

Fredi is a Member of the Board of, engaged in The Lean Startup Zürich Community, and a Leaders Coach at pragmatic solutions gmbh. He is a regular speaker around the world as well as a slow motion Ice Hockey player.

Workshop: A Viable Product in 20 Minutes with a Lean Canvas

picture of Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

If Lean Startup is changing our approach to creating new companies and products, then new tools are needed to help us understand what are customers really want. The workshop will introduce to you to one such tool. The Lean Canvas. By brainstorming on few simple questions, you quickly identify what problem you are trying to solve, who you are solving for, and whether there is a business case for it.

In this workshop, you will learn to create a Lean Canvas by applying to your own situation, so you can see more clearly what your customers and users need from you.

Peter Stevens is an Entrepreneur and Certified Scrum Trainer. As the former, he is leading the creation of echobravo, the system to help businesses of all sizes solve the social media problem. As a CST, he teaches teams and organization to solve problems — the right problems — quickly and effectively. He initiated the Scrum Breakfast, which became the swissICT Lean-Agile-Scrum working group and co-founded the Stoos Movement to catalyze a lasting change in management.

Location: Training Room Zürich West, Hardturmstrasse 181, Zürich
Keywords: Lean Startup, Agile, Scrum, Enterprise, Management, Business Plan, Budgeting, Stoos, Apéro

This event will be held in English unless everyone can agree on German..


Date: January 23, 2013

Admission is free! Registration is required.

Afternoon Program
14.00 Door Open / Welcome & Coffee
14.30 Fredi Schmidli - Why Lean Startup Changes Everything!
15:20 Break
15:40 Peter Stevens - Creating a Vision for Viable Product with the Lean Canvas
17:00 Apéro / Networking


This event has closed. Here you can register for the latest Agile Company event!

Location / Directions

For directions see Training Room Zurich West.

Posted in Events

Philipp Engstler on the Rise and Temptation of an Agile Company

The Agile Company Series

November 21, Afternoon and Early Evening


Is Agile Forever? The Rise and Temptation of an Agile Organization

Philipp Engstler, ex CIO of

Philipp Engstler, ex CIO of

1x1Philip Engstler has been working for 15 years in leading positions in the Internet and e-commerce industry. The last five years he worked as CTO / CIO of ricardo group in Zug, where he initiated and accompanied the transformation of ricardoGroup’s IT into an Agile organization with 80 employees at 3 locations throughout Europe.

His presentation is a retrospective on the introduction and impact of agile methods in IT and to the entire enterprise. An experience report.

Philipp Engstler arbeitet seit 15 Jahre in führenden Positionen in der Internet- und eCommerce Branche. Die letzten fünf Jahre arbeitete er als CTO/CIO der ricardo group in Zug. Er initierte und begleitete die Transformation der ricardoGroup IT in eine agile Organisationseinheit, welche 80 Mitarbeiter an 3 paneuropäischen Standorten unfasste. Sein Vortrag ist eine Retrospektive über die Einführung und Auswirkungen von agilen Methoden in der IT und auf die gesamte Unternehmung. Ein Erfahrungsbericht.

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Location: Training Room Zürich West, Hardturmstrasse 181, Zürich
Keywords: Agile, Scrum, Enterprise, Management, Problem Solving, Agile, Sustainability, Stoos, Apéro
This workshop will be held in English unless everyone can agree on German..


Date: November 21, 2013

Admission is free!
Registration is required!


Afternoon Program
14.00 Door Open / Welcome & Coffee
14.30 Philipp Engstler - the Rise and Temptation of an Agile Company
15:20 Break
15:40 Peter Stevens - Applying Agile Values in Your Company
17:00 Apéro / Networking


This event has closed. Here you can register for the latest Agile Company event!

Location / Directions

For directions see Training Room Zurich West.

Posted in Events

Jazoon Side Event


Scrum Coaches Clinic & Vernissage

October 23, Afternoon and Evening

Are you looking for something to do after Jazoon? Are you facing challenges implementing Scrum? Would like some expert advice from experienced coaches? Or would you just like to hang out, check out our Vernissage and Apéro?

Location: Training Room Zürich West, Hardturmstrasse 181, Zürich
Keywords: Scrum, Free Coaching, Problem Solving, Agile, Vernissage, Apéro, Agile Hardware

Agile coaching clinics are popular events at Scrum and Agile Gatherings around the world. Got a question you’d like to discuss? Experienced Scrum experts Steve Holyer and Peter Stevens will be available from 18:00 to 20:00 for free one-on-one coaching to help you. No strings, no sales pitches — just you, your coach and a flip chart. Afterwards, you can enjoy our Apéro and Vernissage!

Steve Holyer  About Peter Stevens, CST

Participation is easy! Just come to the event and sign up for a free slot! Each session last 15 minutes.


Date: October 23

Open Door, you can attend the parts you want to! Admission is free!

Afternoon Program (registration required)
14.00 Door Open / Welcome & Coffee
14.30 Urs Boehm – Going the next step? Agile Values and Principles applied to hardware
15:15 Break
15:30 Peter Stevens – Applying Agile Values in Your Company
16:30 Break

Jazoon Side Event / Evening Program (registration requested)
17:00 Vernissage with Zurich Artist, Renate Grob
17:30 Apéro starts
18:00 Coaches Clinic with Steve Holyer and Peter Stevens
19:45 Last coaches session at Coaches Clinic
21:00 Apéro moves someplace near by…?

Register here!

Location / Directions

Here’s how to get to the Jazoon Side Event from Jazoon:

via S-7 or S-16 Faster, More Walking

via S-7 or S-16
Faster, More Walking

Line 80 and 17. Less walking, a bit slower.

Line 80 and 17.
Less walking, a bit slower.

For more Information see Training Room Zurich West.

Don’t forget to register here!

Posted in Events

Sprint Planning 1

What is the best possible step forwards?

At the beginning of each sprint, the Scrum team and product owner negotiate the scope of the sprint. They have a limited amount of time to discuss and agree on the sprint backlog. The product owner wants functionality implemented properly and to invest development dollars wisely. The team wants a mandate it can fulfill. And everyone wants the meeting to finish on time! Here is an agenda to help keep your sprint planning on track and successful.

The purpose of the Sprint Planning Meeting is for the Product Owner and the team to negotiate what should be accomplished during the sprint, or as I call it, the sprint contract. (Scrum traditionally defines two meetings, a negotiation meeting with the product owner and a “let’s figure out how we are going to do this” meeting among the implementation team. More recent guidance is going back to one meeting.)

Even though we value customer interactions over formal contracts, contracts can still be useful and I like to talk about a “sprint contract”. It is a helpful reminder that Scrum implements commitment based planning, and everyone is bound by the agreement. It is simply an agreement between the Product Owner, who agrees not to change his mandate before the end of the sprint, and the team, who commits to doing their best to achieve the sprint goal within that time. (Hint: your organization must also agree to respect the Sprint Contract!)

Basic Parameters of the Sprint Contract

One of the best kept secrets of Scrum is that an overall project consists of a series of fixed time, fixed quality and almost fixed scope mini-projects, where each mini-project has a cost ceiling. Sum the results of all the mini-projects together and you have your release.

  • Since the sprint length, team size and definition of done are defined and fixed for the duration of the sprint, only the scope might vary, and even here, the team strives to define and fulfill a commitment.
  • Cost depends mostly on hours worked. The upper limit is known, but since things happen – like getting called to help another project or an unexpected doctor’s visit – the limit is seldom reached. So you have a cost ceiling.
  • Quality is expressed though the definition of done, and should only change occasionally.
  • As all the parameters are fixed for the duration of the sprint, the only thing to agree on is the scope. Although not a parameter of the contract, the expected velocity helps set the expectation of how much can be accomplished in the sprint.
  • If the team fails to achieve all the goals, it should deliver less scope. Time, Cost & Quality should remain fixed.

Staying within the Time Box

The Scrum Master moderates the meeting, but the Product Owner comes with the agenda. S/he wants functionality delivered and to ensure that the overall project is on track.

Regardless of the length of your sprint or size of your team, preparation is the key to finishing on time. If you are unprepared, the meeting can really drag on!
Before you start, the Implementation Team(s) should have seen, understood and estimated the stories. The stories should be small enough to implement in one sprint. The acceptance criteria should have been defined; this greatly improves your chances that the product owner can accept the implementation on the first try.

The team should know how much capacity they have available. So vacations, training, company events, and other commitments should be known and accounted for before the start of the sprint. Some events are unpredictable, in which case you just make a reasonable guess as to how much capacity they will consume, agree with the Product Owner on priorities, and then accept some stories as “conditional” – those you will do if you have time.

A Simple Sprint Planning Meeting

I have used this structure in a number of contexts, including a case in which the product owner paid for the team by the hour and another with distributed teams on two different sites. How formal you need to be will depend on many things, including the size of the project, how well the project is going, the commercial relationship between product owner and team, and how well parties cooperate. The more challenged the project, the more you need to care about the format and formality.

  • •Review the basic parameters – Start and end dates, time and location of the sprint review meeting, team availability and Definition of Done
  • Present & discuss each story – A time box for each may be useful to keep to whole meeting on track. Holding a reserve at the end of this section for difficult stories often makes it easier to move on if the discussion is getting stuck on one story.
  • •Forecast the stories. Go through the list, one at a time and in order of priority. Get the team or a team to commit each one until no one will commit to any more.
  • •Agreement. Confirm the list of  stories with the Product Owner.

You can download the meeting agenda , which also includes suggestions for time-boxing the individual sections.

As Scrum Master, I have found it useful to confirm the Sprint Contract with an email to the Product Owner. A picture of the task board, a pdf of the spreadsheet or a screen dump of the wiki page can be an effective way to capture the agreement. Everyone is clear on what should be done and both product owner and team have a solid basis to examine the success of the sprint and the overall state of the project at the sprint review.

Agenda for Sprint Planning 1

  • Participation:
    • •Must: Product Owner, Implementation Team
    • Should: ScrumMaster
    • Optional: Others whom the Scrum Team feel is necessary
  • Purpose: Agree on the “Sprint Contract”. If the team fails, it should fail to deliver all the scope, but must ensure that time, cost and quality remain constant.
  • Duration: 1 Hour per week of Sprint
  • Frequency: Once per Sprint. It is advisable to reserve dates months in advance


Posted in How We Do Scrum

Skip the Daily Scrum? No Thank You!

A frequent question is whether it would be OK to make the Daily Scrum a Weekly Scrum? My answer: No way!

The Daily Scrum exists to enable self organization. It helps the team focus, communicate and identify impediments. The team members communicate to each other their progress, goals and impediments. The team members identify how they can help each other to reach the shared goal of the sprint.

Each team member answers three questions:

  1. What did you accomplish yesterday?
  2. What is your goal for today?
  3. What is preventing you from accomplishing your goals?

Syncing up at the Daily Scrum

The first two questions allow the team members to sync up. Yesterday they made commitments to each other. Today they review the results together and make new commitments. Team members can recognize when they need to help each other, work with each other, or just need to talk to each other about specific problems. This is basis of self organization. The ScrumMaster may also identify impediments to progress which require his/her attention.

The answer to the first question confirms that each team member has worked on and achieved what s/he planned to do. Unachieved goals can be a sign that the problem is harder than expected or that the team member needs assistance. Unplanned work can be a sign of many different problems which will prevent the team from achieving its goal. Listening to the answer gives the rest of the team an opportunity to confirm whether the claimed goal has really been achieved.

Focus on your goals for the day

The answer to the second question helps each individual focus on the day’s tasks. Other team members can notice when their work is affected and raise the need to discuss a subject in detail. The second question should also identify free capacity if a team member does not have enough work for the day.

Turn excuses into a Call for Action

The third question serves to systematically identify factors which are impeding the team’s progress, so that these issues can be addressed as quickly as possible. If a team member needs help, e.g. from another team member, from the ScrumMaster, or from somewhere else in the company, this is the time to raise the issue. An impediment is transformed into a call to action and is not allowed to become an excuse for not completing work when the deadline arrives.

So to the participant in Zürich: You’re not doing one now, so it’s not killing you. But if you do Scrum without a Daily Scrum, self organization probably won’t work and impediments won’t get recognized or corrected. From my experience, half of the productivity improvement from Scrum derives directly from the close collaboration among the team members enabled by the Daily Scrum.

You might have compelling arguments why a Daily Scrum is not possible. If Scrum is not suitable for your project, that’s OK. But more likely, you are just trying to accommodate a situation which is suboptimal. So before you skip the Daily Scrum, ask yourself, ‘Can I really afford to skip the productivity benefits? Could I justify this to my Stakeholders?’ And ultimately, your self-organizing Team should have the final word.


Posted in How We Do Scrum

How to Hold the Daily Scrum

Scrum is simple and Scrum is hard. The Daily Scrum is simple daily routine to help the team self-organize, focus, and identify and eliminate impediments to progress. How do you conduct the Daily Scrum and how do you know if the Daily Scrum is achieving its purpose?

When and Where to hold the Daily Scrum

Scrum defines basic rules for holding the Daily Scrum. The Daily Scrum should be held at the same location and the same time every day, ideally in the team space in front of the team’s big visible task board. The task board displays the release and sprint burn down charts and the state of each task in the sprint backlog. Each task is represented on a card and moves through the columns from “waiting” to “in work” to “done”.

Before the meeting starts, each team member should update the state of his tasks and the sprint burn down chart on the task board. These make the current state of the sprint visible for all to see.

The Daily Scrum should be held first thing in the morning, so that team members use it to focus their planning for the day. Practical considerations, e.g. decentralized teams working in different time zones, may require a different time or even changing the time from Sprint to Sprint.

Discipline at the Daily Scrum

The meeting lasts a maximum of 15 minutes. All team members are required to attend personally, by phone or by proxy. Since the meeting is so short, it is essential that people arrive on time and be ready to start at the appointed time. The classic penalty for late arrivals is a $1 fine, paid to the ScrumMaster, but other fines are possible. The fine should not directly or indirectly reward bad behavior.

The Daily Scrum is generally a ‘stand-up’ meeting – no sitting, so people are discouraged from settling in and rambling. It’s also good for your circulation, so people think more clearly.

Each team member answers in turn the three questions. Only one person may talk at once. The ScrumMaster must intervene if people get off track. Any team member may request a meeting with interested parties to discuss issues that arise during the meeting.

How does the Daily Scrum not work?

A Daily Scrum has several important differences from a classical project meeting:

  1. Neither the ScrumMaster nor anybody else assigns tasks.
  2. The team members do not report to the ScrumMaster, they inform and sync up with each other.
  3. The team does not discuss or resolve issues. Team members agree to talk later about subjects of common interest.
  4. Anyone outside of the Scrum Team has to stand out of the way and is not allowed to talk, make faces or otherwise interfere with the meeting.

Solving problems and going beyond the rules

The most fundamental principle of Scrum is ‘Inspect and Adapt.’ If something is working sub-optimally, then ask yourself ‘why?’ and seek ways to improve.

If your Daily Scrums aren’t working, review the rules: are you really doing a Daily Scrum? If not, why not? If you modify the basic rules of Scrum, you risk accommodating dysfunction. The basic rules are surprisingly well thought out and internally consistent. So as a first step, I would ‘do it by the book’ and see if that helps.

How do you know if the Daily Scrum is working well?

In my experience, a good Daily Scrum has several characteristics:

  1. The ScrumMaster does not routinely ask the questions. If s/he does, the meeting degenerates into reporting.
  2. The Team Members talk to each other, not to the ScrumMaster, and even challenge each other on what is being said.
  3. The Daily Scrum stays in its time box. If you are disciplined and doing it right, there is no need for it to exceed 15 Minutes. If you have an ‘After-Scrum’ for other topics, it too should be time-boxed to 15 minutes, and should stay in its time box.)
  4. After the Daily Scrum, you know if you need to talk to your fellow team members. You might not know how they will pass their time, but you know what they are trying to accomplish. If it affects you, you should know it.

Teams that self organize develop a daily rhythm: Quiet before the Daily Scrum. A phase of intense conversation follows the Daily Scrum which then settles into silence until lunch time. Another phase of conversation follows the lunch break and dissolves into silence for the rest of the day. This is pulse of a self-organizing team. If you can feel the pulse, the team is healthy and the Daily Scrum is doing its job.

Posted in How We Do Scrum