EP 82 - Michael Pinkowski - Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half The Time Book Review

Awesomers BOOK OF THE WEEK -  Steve and other "insiders" will share their favorite books and talk about some of the reasons why these books are noteworthy to them. We'll share why we believe learning and knowledge is a critical difference maker when it comes to becoming a leader and ultimately staying on the road to becoming awesomer.
Michael has been involved in e-commerce since building his first transactional website in 1998. Since that time he has used his expertise to help multiple companies find success on the Internet. 

He was COO of iFLOOR as they grew from startup to $50M in sales in 5 years and was Director of Marketing for ATG Stores (now part of Lowe’s) for their journey from $50M to over $100M. Since that time, he has founded his own companies and brought his expertise to half a dozen other e-commerce companies. In 2018, Michael will be focusing on a new entrepreneurial-focused startup, Parsimony.com, which is a complete ERP system for e-commerce entrepreneurs.

Michael earned his MBA in Finance and Marketing from Ohio State University. He and Jennifer, his wife of over 30 years, have the two best boys in the world and live in Bellevue, WA just east of Seattle. His battle cry is “Go. Be. Strong!"


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


Scrum is a framework for software development and project management which focuses on the team working as a unit to reach a common goal.


Today’s podcast is a Book of the Week episode. Host Michael Pinkowski, introduces us to the book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland. Here are some major key points on today’s episode:

  • Scrum’s first concept - collaborate.

  • The 3S words - Scrum master, Sprints and Stand Up.

  • How Scrum relates to happiness.

  • The questions to ask everyone at the end of each sprint.


So jump aboard and learn how you too can use Scrum to improve productivity in your team.


01:15 (Michael Pinkowski introduces the Book of the Week, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.)

04:34 (Scrum started when author Jeff Sutherland worked with the FBI on a project called Sentinel.)

24:37 (Time is no longer a linear arrow but a cycle.)

27:13 (Michael discusses some of the axioms in the book.)

40:24 (How to apply Scrum in your business.)

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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01:15 (Michael Pinkowski introduces the Book of the Week, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.)

Michael: Hello, my name is Michael Pinkowski and welcome to Awesomers.com . I am your sometimes guest host to give Steve a break from doing all these. And this is episode 82. We're going to do a book of the week, this week, if you are ready. And the book is Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland, he is a co-creator of Scrum. Scrum is, this a development platform, it's a way of developing software, working on projects things like that, you probably heard about it, I'd heard about it. And number of years ago, I ran across this book and I just thought, man I really like these principles. I really want to know more about it and so I read it, I've listened to it again and again. And now in my current position of trying to get a company growing and do a lot of software development, it came back into my mind and I thought I'd share it with all of you. So let's get into a little bit, first of all they say in a small company that everyone is in sales and that's true, because you know, nothing happens until somebody makes a sale, but it's also true that everyone is a project manager, right? In a small company Steve and I used to say all the time, everybody's got three jobs you know, somebody would come in and say, “But, but, but, what about? I don't know how to do this.” We'd say, “Listen, everybody's got three jobs, that's one of yours, we're sure you can figure it out, let us know if you need help.” So getting things done, managing projects especially in small companies is a critical skill. And I thought this book would help you, as you are working, as an Awesomer in your business to pick up some of these skills and know some of these topics. I want to give a caveat first and I'm hesitant to pose as an expert or even particularly knowledgeable about Scrum or agile or any of this stuff. I'm talking to you about a book that I've read, that means a lot to me, it's clearly an introduction. There are advanced people out there, there are advanced courses, there are advanced certifications. There's a whole lot of people that have lived and died in this stuff in a much, much higher level than I have. I'm just trying to give you my experience and a kind of a rundown on this book and why I want you to think about it if you haven't already. If you're already pretty advanced in this stuff, please don't get mad at me. I'm doing my best too, you know, open the doors of the church and let more people in, to come to believe in Scrum as a way of working on things. And then I do have a selfish reason you know, they say “that the best way to learn is by teaching” and I'll tell you, as I've gone back through some of these things it has helped me to realize why I'm not getting projects done, as fast as I want to, and why the things have been slower than I wanted and so I'm looking at changing the way I do things and it's helped me to try to build up this podcast for you, it's helped me that to kind of pick up some of these principles. So there's a bonus there, you can learn by teaching, if you find yourself wishing that, did you want to know how to do something, suck it up and trying to teach it to somebody and you'll go a long ways.

04:34 (Scrum started when author Jeff Sutherland worked with the FBI on a project called Sentinel.)

Alright, so let's before we go to a break let me give you the background on how this thing came to be this, Jeff Sutherland guy was involved in a project, the FBI was working on a project called Sentinel. And this was going to be something where, they were going to bring all of their systems together online and start to coordinate this was after 9/11 and they wanted to figure out a way to be able to coordinate much better on inter agencies and within agencies. And so they put together this project and they needed a new system, they priced it out with some contractors and it came to 451 million dollars and they said it was going to take four years to build this thing. Five years later, remember out of, this is the fifth year of a four-year project, they had spent 90% of that money over 400 million dollars and they knew, that they were going to need another 350 million dollars and several more years to get it done. So they were already over time, they were on the brink of going over budget and they were going to totally blow out the budget. And this was critical stuff. right? This is FBI Homeland Security, all that stuff there's, millions of the 300 million American lives are resting on this thing working and the FBI was not happy with the time that it was taking. So they brought this guy in and they looked around and he said “man you know these are smart people and they're using the right technology, they are working hard, and they are they've got competitive juices there this is everything you'd want to go to work on a project of this scale of the size and this importance.” And he finally saw that  the problem was the way that they worked and they had to admit that even, that wasn't exactly wrong but it was the problem and by not even wrong, what he means is they were following something, that's called the waterfall method and this is another one of those things at one point. I said I learned five things in my MBA program and one of them was project management, there was something I'd never really heard of before and they taught it to me and I thought it was the greatest thing ever as I get into Scrum, I find out they taught me the wrong way. Here's the waterfall method, this is the one I paid a lot of money for to learn in MBA school. It starts with the project and you outline the requirements, what is this project going to do and that's called the discovery phase. And once you've got those all put together then you outline, well how are we going to meet those requirements right, how well, you know, what's the database going to look like? What are the tools going to look like? What are the interface is going look like? And that's the design stage the technical side. Once you've got all that laid out, you say, “Alright now we can get to work, let's do some coding.” And we'll test it and we'll you know figure out what's wrong and we'll write new stuff and we'll keep coding and coding and coding and this is the development stage.” This is what everybody thinks you know should go really fast, and then you get to the client approval and launch or that they, the test stage, where it kind of has to meet the real world, and this is again, this is what I was taught in my MBA program. This is how stuff was done you may have heard of Gantt charts, critical path charts, this is the classic waterfall method, and by the way if you're watching on, if you're just listening on audio, you might want to find the video, I've got a graphic put together that walks you through that.

So it's good, right? You know again it was taught to me, it's used all over the time, it the only thing that’s wrong with it, is that it’s wrong and this battle plan, never survives the first day in the field. And this is what Jeff Sutherland meant when he said you know, he had the right people, the right technology, the right they certainly had plenty of money, it was the way they were going about it, that was wrong and even that was you know, how people were taught but the issue was the way they were going about it. So how did they fix it well, the first thing that he and his team did was they unwound all of the outside contracts, they just told everybody thanks for everything but goodbye. Then, they went and they grabbed the documents of what the system needed to do and there were 1100 requirements and he went around the room, to the lot of the senior guys that signed off on all this money and he said, “Have you read this thing” and they go well no it's huge, how can we read it, he says “that's anybody in the room read all of these requirements and nobody had.” So this all right, so they sit down and they literally cut like, cut paste, took their scissors out and put together the 11-hundred requirements of what needed to be done.And then, and this is the key and this is a thing that I keep making a mistake on, they prioritized them and they prioritized based on the value to the project, and the project really was the thing with the customers, and it's the 80/20 rule, right, when you buy something 80% of the value comes from 20% of the thing. So he uses the example and it's an excellent one of Microsoft Word and you know, when you get 80% of what you want out of word from using just 20% of the features, right? Open up the blank document let me put words in there, let me change the fonts in the format, let me save it, that's everything. Built-in there is a footnoting system, and a reference system and all kinds of other mathematical notation systems, and macros there's all kinds of code in there, that does all kinds of other stuff, but the reality is, you get 80% of the value from just 20% of the code and so he says let's prioritize the stuff that we're going to do based on the value that we can deliver back to our customers. With the outside contractors gone, he was able to cut the team down from 220 people to 40 and the reality is, he used even fewer than that on the core team and they built the last half of the system in just 12 months and then there was some months of testing but there but it was built in 12 months and they only spent 20 million dollars. How did they do it? Well they got going faster that is they accelerated, because they had fewer obstacles, they worked better and smarter they did not work longer, you know, they didn't bring in these 40 guys and say listen, you know, you're going to work, you know, eighty or a hundred hour weeks, they just worked better and smarter. The end result was, with five percent of the budget remember they had already the other, the previous team has spent 90 percent of the budget, they spent another five percent of the budget and 20 months of time that's 12 months of development and eight months of testing and implementation, they did more than Lockheed did, with that 90 percent of the budget and ten years of time. Okay, so this system is worth looking at, and that's all I'm saying. Okay so and when he predicted the 12 months, he says “you know we don't really know until we get into, we've got to get to see how this team goes, what the work is really like and then we got to see how fast they get going.” And I'll address some of that later on, in the book. Their most powerful insight demos, they would demonstrate, every two weeks to everyone, they would bring in the customers that they had the people, that would use this software, and they would demonstrate how it worked, every two weeks there was demonstrable progress that they had. So after the break, we're going to do a deeper dive, into some of the key components of Scrum and we'll have some ideas about how you can use it in your business. Back in a minute.

Awesomers Review Hero

Hello, Awesomer this is Steve Simonson and I want to just take a quick moment and share another Awesomers review hero, with you. This particular hero, I found on iTunes, after leaving a five-star review and their code name is SD726, so this one's for you SD726. The title of the five-star review goes amazing content, exclamation point and it's short and simple and to the point here's what it says,” love this podcast, I've taken something away from each episode.” And I just want to give you a shout out personally and say thank you for that feedback. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us and that five-star review means a lot to us. These types of reviews really do keep us going. And so we're going to get right back to the show now, but I didn't want anybody to forget this fact that SD 726 is my Awesomer hero. You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Michael: Alright, we are back on the Awesomers.com podcast I'm Michael Pinkowski and today we're doing book of the week and the book is Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. Alright, let's take a couple of minutes and walk through some of the key concepts of Scrum, the first one is collaborate. And the book is really cool and remember I want you to read the book, because I'm just giving you some of the highlights here in a few minutes it's not a long book, I think as an audiobook, I'm remembering that it's about eight hours, maybe eight and a half hours. So, you know, if you have an hour commute every day, you're done with this book in less than two weeks. So he tells a story about, being a “fighter pilot” and that, they taught him that the key to being a fighter pilot was to observe, as you're flying into a combat situation, observe what's going on around you, orient where you need to go, what you need to do, and then decide and act. And just keep it simple, observe your surroundings, orient that is sort of, you know, make a plan choose it decide that's the best plan and then work on that plan. In another part of the book, he talks about his time as a program manager, working with a team that sounds like the guys at Boston robotics . This week, there was a video that came out, about another robot out of Boston robotics and shows all the work they're doing, these guys were working on robotic cats and they had simple principles trying to teach this robot cat, how to walk. And they thought about trying to put a master brain on a double control everything and they had a terrible time with that they spent a ton of money, and a ton of code trying to get the legs to work together. Then, they had an insight and what they said was “Let's get the same principles in place for each leg, about how to move forward, how to move backward. Let's put some rules in there, but don't bump into the other legs.” Right? So let's understand, where the other legs are, so that we can you know, do what we need to do as a leg, if we're bumping into each other, we're too close to each other and the cats going to fall over. And then we will in that way, the legs will learn what they need to do and they will learn to collaborate and they will learn to work together and we'll just have this controller at the top that says “Okay legs, what are we doing here's where we're going.” You know, figure it out. So Jeff Sutherland sitting there watching this thing and he says, what if we did this with people? What if we did this with teams? What if we got a group of a team together that was trying to do something? And instead of trying to be the great decision maker and tell each and every person exactly, what to do all the time, what if we told the team “Hey, this is the bigger plan.” And you guys need to figure out how to work together, so you need to collaborate, that's a key concept in Scrum. Another one, is plan as you go. I already showed you that chart about waterfall planning and all the steps and they are terrible, it takes forever to try to assess every possible requirement and then, you know, do all of the technical requirements, because typically you're an environment where things are changing. If the actual and or marketplace that you're going into isn't changing, the people on the team, the people in management, the goals of the company those kinds of things are changing. And to try to build a single plan that's, going to, you know, account for every one of those is impossible, not hard impossible so don't do it. The best teams, he's noticed have used overlapping development processes and those teams are faster and much more flexible and they deliver stuff. So give these teams the autonomy and a transcendent purpose, and attract a transcendent purpose is sort of a the big vision or mission of what you're doing. I worked in a great company for a while and their transcendent purpose was to create the hardware that people need to have

their historic homes, you know, look authentic. And a lot of it frankly was reproduction hardware, right, It was not antique hardware, it was reproduction stuff, but they wanted to have people that had homes that were 70, 150, 200 years old be able to get the kind of hardware that they need, to make that home look, like it was when it was built. And everybody there knew, that was the transcendent purpose of what it was about, we were trying to help people have these really wonderful homes and to have, you know, that the transom windows and the intricate door hinges and the crystal doorknobs and the old push-button electrical switches. This was the reason, they came up with these products, this was their purpose, was to make these homes wonderful. So if teens know, what that's, about they can build what they're doing, you know, towards that end if they, you know, in my case I'm trying to build a software package to help businesses operate our transcendent purpose is to help these businesses get the tools that they need, to be able to automate a big part of their system and get you know, less data and more information from their business. That will be the transcendent purpose of our

business. The executives job then, is to remove obstacles to let the team with its autonomy and his transcendent purpose meet those goals. And then, as he watched this happen, as Jeff Sutherland watch this he sees that the ball gets passed within the team and it moves around and they're running all over the field and passing it all the time, everybody's got it you know, at a different time and to him it looked like rugby and that's where the name, Scrum comes from. It is from this team moving up the field, encountering new situations passing the ball to get around that situation, you know, rallying to the ball doing what you need to do, to get that whole unit, you know, to the goal and when it gets to the goal right the team has scored, it's not just the one guy the team has scored. So as he's looking at this thing and thinking about it he says, “Let's try this on software development which is, where he'd been called in to help.”

So another key concept of Scrum is the three, what I call the 3S words. I don't remember Jeff Sutherland seeing this but I saw it. The first one is, you need a Scrum master, the role of the Scrum master is to facilitate all meetings, assured transparency and help the team to discover what was getting in their way, because we need to get them, to go faster and faster and faster to accelerate, so we’re going to get obstacles out of their way. So he's going to guide the team to continuous improvement and the overarching question for the Scrum master is, “How can we do? What we do better?” So that is, his job is to just keep this team moving, get obstacles out of their way and help them to go faster and faster. The second S word is sprints and we've all by now heard this term, you know, you'll talk to somebody they'll say “Well, we're you know we just finished a sprint at work or whatever.” Sprints are intervals, and for every interval they are at the end of it they are able to demonstrate working software. It may not be pretty, it may not be fancy, but it works. And the goal then is to build this stuff out and get it so that there's something working at the end of every interval. And it should be something, that the company can actually use, that the customer can actually use, a fully implemented feature and again, sometimes that means it has to be really small, but it's fully implemented, it's done.The third S word then, is stand-up and that's really nothing but a team meaning, where they talk about? What are the things that need to be done? Which ones are you doing right now? And, which ones have been accomplished? And they talk about this at the team meeting and I'll tell you in a second how those go. So, there are three rules then for every stand-up meeting, the first rule is, what did you do yesterday to help the team finish the sprint? And so, you know, you're going to meet, every day so you know, you got to get something done, because you want to be able to tell everybody, I got this thing done. What will you do today to help the team finish the sprint? See the focus on getting the team to finish the sprint. What are you going to do to help the team to finish the sprint? The third one is, what obstacles are getting in the team's way? What things do you need? What is in your way? What this is  the role of management, right, it is their job to make you successful. So what does management need to do to help this team get to the end of the sprint? The meaning is, at the same time, the same place every single day and everyone is there, you don't miss a sprint. But you keep it to 15 minutes max and everyone participates. So you'll see these different companies, sometimes they do at 8 o'clock in the morning, sometimes they do them at 10:00 sometimes they do them at 2:00, doesn't matter when you do they're just held at the same time, the same place, every day and everyone's there and everybody talks and everyone answers these three questions. And then the key idea is to quickly confer as a team about, how to move on to victory? So it's a little bit like a huddle at a football game, right? you just come in what's going to work, you know, what do we need to do? And to not participate is not just lazy, it actually hurts the team and and he says in the book, “If somebody's unwilling to do this, just get him out of the team they are they're hurting the team.” Alright, the secret of Scrum then is, and he makes a big point at this and I hadn't thought about it at all. But he says it alters, how you think about time.

24:37 (Time is no longer a linear arrow but a cycle.)

Time when you really sort of get Scrum into your bones, time is no longer a linear arrow to the future. It is cyclical, that is a new sprint starts and you work for a week or two weeks or a month and you finish it and you review it and you kind of take a breath and a new one starts. And each sprint is an opportunity to do something totally new and you you get to this place where there's a rhythm and a cadence and a sort of a cyclical feeling that says, “All right, I'm doing something new. Okay, I'm struggling with it but I’m making progress. Okay, I'm nearly done. I have finished. What did I learn? Lots of things. What's next? A new Scrum. Let's go. I'm learning something new. I'm struggling but making progress.” You just kind of go into this circle and he says it really changes how you look at life. It's no longer sort of just this long thing that is going to go on for a long time and you die. For him, there's this breath and this breathing of each cycle that makes life much more interesting. And it gives makes each day a chance to improve. All right, let's take our second break and I'll come back with a few axioms of Scrum that are kind of fun. And we'll do a quick outline of how you can implement it in your business.


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Michael: I'm Michael Pinkowski. Welcome back to Awesomers.com and the book of the week which is Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. Alright. Let's do some of the axioms of Scrum. If you've been listening to Steve for a while you know he's got different axioms. Axiom zero, I'm pretty sure is we don't know nothing about nothing. I share that one with him. We've both said it many many times and it's a great one to live by so as I went through the Scrum book I found this one section and I thought boy, these are these are axioms similar to that. I'm not going to spend a ton of time on them because there's close to a dozen of them I think but I'll give you a few words on each one. Again, it's an excellent book. It's well written and the guy makes a lot of great points. And I urge you to read the book.

27:13 (Michael discusses some of the axioms in the book.)

The first axiom is multitasking makes you stupid. That is the idea that the person that is you know on the phone and is you know walking the dog and cooking dinner and typing an email and listening to a podcast all at the same time and that somehow in this world we we're told to maybe envy this person because they're doing it all. No, they're not doing any one of those things well. And in fact the point, doing most of them rather poorly. And so multitasking makes you stupid trying to do all those things. You're far better off picking a thing, doing it, getting it done. Along the lines of that, half done is not done. There is no such thing as half done. It is half started maybe but it is nowhere near done. I struggle with this one all the time, trying to actually you know put a fork in it. It's done. That's a real goal and you can think that you're halfway there and you are usually nowhere near halfway there.  

Do it right the first time. This one I understand a little better. I do spend a lot of time trying to think about what is it that needs to get done. How are we going to do it and and how can we do it so we only have to do it once? Jeff Sutherland doesn't use it but the axiom that says do it right the first time because we don't have time to do it twice or we don't have money to do it twice. That's really true. I can't tell you how many times I've said, “Boy, I gotta do this one correctly now because I don't have the time or money or resources to do it a second time.” So do it right the first time.

Working too hard only makes more work. The idea here is that if you put in you know incredibly long days, you're probably not taking good care of yourself so you're not very sharp but your regular job which means you're going to do it slower, you're probably going to make mistakes which means you're making more work for yourself to do. You actively chose to you know do work when you were tired, when you were not thinking clearly which means you essentially chose to do things poorly which means you chose to do things twice. So working too hard only makes more work.

Don't be unreasonable. The flip of that of course is try to be reasonable. Try to be patient. Try to be understanding. Try to set goals that are reasonable goals. You can't just walk into a development team and say you know, “I want it by Friday.” Because if you don't really know what it is and what it involves that could be an incredibly unreasonable goal and you'll get nowhere. You will have lost the trust and faith of the team and you will be setting yourself up for a lot of embarrassment on Friday when you don't get what you want. So be reasonable. Don't be unreasonable.

No heroics. Again this is all about a team doing things together. You don't need somebody that says, “And then I came in on Sunday and worked and I figured the whole thing out all by myself.” You know, we don't need that. The work that folks like us do, does not involve running into burning buildings. It involves simply you know working together as a team and getting the job done.

He says, enough with stupid policies. I think I can almost say enough said about that right. We've all seen so many of these and I apologize for all the ones I've caused.

No assholes. Don't be one, don't allow any - really important. This is part of it. If you have someone that doesn't want to be on your team, help them get them off your team. You only want people on the team that want to be there.

And then strive for flow. And this one resonated with me a couple of ways. Flow is back to the idea of time and as a cycle and that kind of cadence and rhythm to do things. That's where you will find happiness. And we're going to talk about a lot of happiness in just a minute here. But the other part is there's a part of strengths finder which we'll talk about sometime which gets to the same idea of flow. It's a place where things are just working the right way and it feels effortless to make progress towards your goal.

Alright so now in this book about software development and Scrum, planning and all of that stuff Jeff Sutherland carves out a big chunk of time to talk about something called happiness. And if you were getting into this to try to figure out the secrets to software development, you'd probably stumble across this chapter and say how fast can I skip over this because this has nothing to do with nothing. But you're making a mistake. In fact, I'm going to quote a couple of passages from the book here because he just says it so well. But as a manager, as a business owner, as an Awesomer, you need you to think about happiness and I'll put a bow on this thing in a minute. But it's not a dumb thing okay. So here's a quote from the book. Sutherland says, “It intuitively makes sense that happy people do better.  It's because of their success that they're happy, right? Wrong. Study after study shows that happiness precedes important outcomes and indicators of thriving. Happiness precedes the outcome and the indicator of thriving. People aren't happy because they're successful. They're successful because they're happy. So let's pause there for a second. People aren't happy because they're successful. If you see people that are happy, it might be easy to say well you know of course he's happy. look at the car he's driving. That's awesome you know. Or look at the house she's got, that's incredible. That ain't it. They are successful because they're happy. Happiness is a predictive measure and performance improves even if people are only a little bit happier. So as a manager, you can do small things to make your team a little bit happier. This is why I buy a lot of donuts. This is why I'll come in and try to tell a joke or make people smile or be a little extra patient with them. When something comes up in their life that they need a little bit of grace around, that little bit of happiness I've seen in my years of experience. If they're a little bit happier, their performance is better so he puts this couple of sentences in here. Let me just read it all so. “The message I want you to take away from this is simple - even small gestures can have great impact. What Scrum is focused on is taking those small things and systematically building them into a scaffolding for success. Just one thing at a time and you can actually change the world.” So this is Sutherland saying you know, there's a lot of stuff in this book but the whole point is to make work go better and when that happens people are happier and when that happens they make work go better. You understand? Scrum becomes the scaffolding that people can build great foundations upon. So it's an important idea. I urge you to give it some reflection and some thought. Happiness is really important.  Thankfully Sutherland doesn't leave us there he talks about how do you sort of you know build on this beyond just sort of doing a few nice little things or my little you know buy doughnuts for people? He says at the end of each sprint, everyone answers these questions. On a scale from one to five, how do you feel about your role in the company? How do you feel about your role in the company? One to five. Next question is, on the same scale, how do you feel about the company as a whole? That is you might feel poorly about your role and see the company doing great or the opposite. You might feel like you and your team are making great progress but you're worried about the direction of the company overall or the mood of the morale of the company overall. So we want to get both of those measures in there. Why do you feel the way you do? Why do you feel that way? And what one thing would make you happier in the next sprint? Again, we're you know looking at the sprint, we're reviewing what worked, what didn't. What is the one thing that would make you happier right. Note that he didn't choose more productive, he didn't choose faster, he didn't choose efficient, he didn't choose any of those other words. He says what one thing would make you happier in the next sprint? So Steve came back from a vacation one time and he plopped down into the chair on the other side of my desk. This is all whatever 18 years ago and and he says, “Hey, I want to do this thing in our company.” And I said, ”Okay.” That's all truth be told, he did all this long before this Scrum thing happened. And he said, “I want to do a pulse report with everybody in the company.” And he says, “The question number one is how happy are you?” And and we did a scale of 1 to 10 and then we have total 5 of them, if I remember right. Another one, what is your outlook? And by that we said, what is your view for how the company is doing? So you would sort of be happy today and that would be like what do you think about tomorrow and where you're going? And then we asked him a couple of other questions. There was a question about getting along with others and using systems and  things like that. But I tell you this to reinforce that by listening to the Awesomers podcasts and listening to Steve, you're doing a good thing. He's a really smart guy. Secondly, we saw great benefits from asking the team every week in a meeting, how happy are you? And it opened up conversations right. It got people to say, “Well, actually I'm pretty upset today.” And you'd say, “Well, why do you feel that way?” One time it led to a conversation with a couple of guys who said you know, we were unfunded.com at the time and this was just in front of the dot-com boom as it was happening and it really happened big in Seattle. And he says, “I've got these friends and they had these really cool jobs and they're all out of work now. I'm looking at the paper they're talking about all these dotcoms going out of business.” And you know he says, “I'm working in a dot-com and my parents are asking me did you make the right choice. Is this a good company for you to be at. Shouldn't you go to a bigger company and you know get more security or something?” And I talked to him and I said, “Hey, listen here's the thing. We got a bunch of money in the bank. We've got customers. We are focused on making money every single day. We are stable. There's going to be great fallout around us because of people that chose a different business model. But we are retailers. We buy low, we sell high and and we you know do it over and over and over again. We are a stable company.” Because I asked him if he was happy, because he was candid with me and said I'm not worried and I said why I was able to get to this question that he'd been kind of carrying around and not getting an answer to and I was able to put him at ease. Well, turns out he's a manager so he influences a bunch of other people and the whole team finally just said there is carnage going around the dot-com businesses all around us. But we are not a part of it. We are doing our thing, we are making money, we're going to be successful and we grew and grew and grew through all of that carnage. I tell you that because this happiness thing is really, these are really good questions to ask in your business.

40:24 (How to apply Scrum in your business.)

All right, let's talk about how to Scrum. How do you do it in your business? Step one, pick a product owner, then this might be you. This person needs to have a vision of what you are trying to do right. So if you're making a face cream or if you're making a sophisticated algorithm or whatever it is, you need a product owner that knows what the customer wants, knows what the product needs to do and can sort of make the big list of all of the stuff that's got to be in there right. Then pick a team, smaller is better. Pick three to nine people. They should all have the skills. The team should you know as a team should have the skills needed to take this vision of the product owner to reality. You don't want more than nine people because there's too many channels of communication. You end up creating inefficiencies there. You don't need extra people in there. You don't need somebody coming in just because they've got free time and or whatever. Maybe you got it even a business owner who's not the product owner, if he doesn't need to be in that meeting, if he doesn't bring in specific skills that that team needs, leave him out. You want a small team that can talk to each other and get the job done. Then you need to pick a Scrum master. Remember, this is the facilitator. They're going to create transparency. They're going to make sure that everything happens the right way. So they're going to coach and help the team and they're going to eliminate anything that is slowing them down. Then you build and prioritize a backlog. These are all of the features that you want done. There's a great scene in I think the last season of Silicon Valley where Richard is there and he's got this great big whiteboard and it is covered with post-it notes. And Richard staggers out of his office and walks over and takes a post-it note from doing and moves it over to done. And then he goes back over to the backlog and he grabs another post-it note and he walks in. These post-it notes contain small parts of sprints and these are small specific things that are demonstrable you know things. So he takes it and puts it back so maybe as an example, maybe the product needed to have something where you could login with your Facebook account right. That's a very small specific chunk of code. So you take that post-it off of the whiteboard, you go and you code it up, you come back and you put it in done and then you can demonstrate to somebody, “Look, now you can log in with Facebook.” Isn't that cool? So you want to list all of the things that you need to execute the vision and put up at least a couple of weeks worth of work but not all of it because this stuff is going to change as you go along. So again, don't try to build the master list. Put down all that you can think of at least a few weeks because the team's going to be working. And then you can add more in later on then refine and estimate the backlog. And yes and the trick here and there's a good explanation of this in the book and because he points out humans are terrible at estimating, Steve can tell you I am uniquely bad at it. So what you want to do is work on getting better estimates together and then what you're able to do is assign the work for the sprint so that there's a reasonable amount in this two-week sprint or one-week sprint, whatever you choose. You want to make sure that all of it can in fact get done. So break the stuff down small enough so that you can make better estimates even though you never made great ones. And then have the team work on it and then at the end of the sprint, you talk about it and you get faster and faster. Then make the work visible. Remember I talked about the board in the TV show Silicon Valley. That's just a big whiteboard with all these post-it notes on. It's called a Scrum board. You can also do a burndown chart, another format that he talks about in the book but put it up where people can see it. Make it visible so that they can all understand you know where they are and at any point in time. Hold your daily stand-up meetings no more than 15 minutes, same place, same time. Everybody participates then at the end of the sprint demonstrate and review. “Here's the feature I built. Here's how it works. Is that you know, is that done? Yes, it's done. Okay let's talk about the next sprint.” Then when you're done, do a retrospective on the whole thing. “All right how did that go? What did we learn? What would we change? How could we you know, what can we do to make better estimates of time? What can we do to organize better and communicate better and then do it again?” That's the beauty of this thing. That cyclicality, the rhythm, the cadence that makes this thing so great. All right, that's Scrum.

45:36 (Another book recommendation, the Story of Zappos.)

Let me throw in one bonus round. We spent a little bit of time talking about happiness today. There's another great book out there. This is my my second bonus to you. Tony Hsieh, guy that sort of came up with Zappos. The story of Zappos is amazing and his whole thing is about delivering happiness, and again doesn't sound like a business title right. I mean it should be crushing the competition or you know efficiently managing the resources and instead Tony Hsieh is talking about delivering happiness. And the audiobook, he narrates the audiobook and it's kind of terrible. But you know what? It's Tony Hsieh! It's really him talking about it. In fact, I think if I remember right at some points, he's got emails in there and he's gone and gotten the person that wrote him the email to read the email into the book in a couple occasions. So it's very real. This is the guy. He's got a couple of amazing stories, actually businesses he had before Zappos. And then his selling of Zappos to Amazon and that kind of the rules of the road that he set up with Amazon on that. And he showed some very different approaches to running a business. It's an excellent book but again I'm trying to bring your focus to the word happiness in the course of all of this software development stuff. All right and with that we are done! The book was Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum and you've been listening to me, Michael Pinkowski, a guest host on the Awesomers.com podcast. Thank you so much for listening. We appreciate it. Steve would be on my case if I didn't remind you that you can rate and review. This is not like being a seller on Amazon, we can beg and plead to have you rate and review the podcast. It does help other people to discover the podcast so if you get a minute, we sure would appreciate it. In the meantime, keep working out there, keep being an Awesomer and I'll look around for another book to talk to you about next time. Thanks very much.


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Well, we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com . Thank you again.