Book Review: "Scrum — The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time"

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Book Review: "Scrum — The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time"

Zone Leader John Vester offers up a review of a book from the co-creator of Scrum.

· Agile Zone ·
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I recently read Jeff Sutherland's book entitled "Scrum — The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time." The 231 page hard-back version that I read took about three days to read, but I have colleagues who managed to read the entire book in about four hours. If you are currently involved in Scrum-based projects or looking to begin using Scrum, Sutherland's book is something I would recommend.

About Jeff Sutherland

Jeff Sutherland has led an interesting career, with roots in the United States Air Force that provided a unique view when he finished college and entered the world of Information Technology (IT).  One of his most noted accomplishments, is that he is one of the original signers of the Agile Manifesto and a father of the Scrum movement. The book provides a historical glimpse into his life, as past lessons he had learned were used to build the Scrum methodology.

The Good Things I Found While Reading

The book is an excellent resource for team members participating on a Scrum-based project. Having been involved in Scrum for quite some time, I found the information highly refreshing and a worthwhile investment in my time. In fact, each section includes "The Takeaway" which is an executive summary of the current chapter.

While the book includes a great deal of value, there are two key items that really stuck with me:

Happiness is Success

I have been doing some research on the impact happiness can have on one's career and productivity. I was shocked at the difference happiness makes in an individual's career. Within the text of the book, the key that Sutherland wants to remind the reader is that that happiness is about the journey, not the destination. Instead of rewarding results, we should focus on rewarding individuals striving toward greatness.

Plan Reality — Not Fantasy

For those who worked in Waterfall-based projects, the plan was always the focus that senior management focused on. Sutherland contrasts this approach advising instead to avoid falling in love with the plan - because it is almost always wrong. He stresses the importance of planning only what needs to be planned right now - since everything in the future will change and is not worth the time. In fact, with Scrum it is quite possible to double production while cutting the delivery time in half - which will be positive news to any senior executive.

One Minor Criticism

The single criticism I found while reading is with regard to the amount of supplemental content that is included. On many occasions, I found myself finding a lot of value in the opening paragraphs of a given section. That was typically followed by several paragraphs (or pages) of a story that backed up Sutherland's point. For me, I had understood the value and meaning of the topic and thought the additional details were not as valuable. Perhaps, in a future version this type of information could either include a sub-header or a different font - making it easier for me to continue to the next topic.


Overall, Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum is something I would highly recommend for anyone looking to implement Scrum. Keep in mind, this doesn't have to be limited to Information Technology either - as several non-IT groups have started using Scrum for their units of work. Want the details? Pick up a copy of the book and start reading.

Have a really great day!

agile adoption, agile manifesto, happiness, plan, reality, scrum

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