10 Commandments of SCRUM

The management development process that has transformed the technology industry and is revolutionizing how business works:

  1. One Meeting a Day. In fifteen minutes, you can coordinate your efforts, align your team, and discover obstacles to progress. Get rid of status meetings, and two hour-long searches for blame.
  2. Make Work Visible. One of the biggest time wastes in American corporations is team members not knowing what other people are working on. It results in duplication, wasted effort, secrecy, working on the wrong things, working on the same things, and spending effort on things that don’t matter. Simply putting all the work up on a wall on sticky notes in three columns–To Do, Doing, Done–will eliminate huge amounts of waste. The fastest teams in the fastest companies know what everyone is working on.
  3. Keep Teams Small. If your team is more than 9 people, it’s too big. Smaller is better. A huge amount of research shows that small teams cost less, produce more, and deliver faster than big teams. A team of five will work faster than a team of twenty. Adding people to a late project will only complicate the process and make the project later.
  4. Eliminate Agendas – Create Deliverable. Before every meeting, everyone involved needs to have a clear understanding of what the deliverable of the meeting is. Does a decision have to be made that can’t be in any other way? Make every meeting produce something. If the deliverable can’t be articulated, don’t have the meeting.
  5. Forget Titles; Tear Up Your Business Cards. The best teams all have one job title: Team Member. Research shows that the more specialized the roles in an organization, the slower the organization will be. Keep the titles for external use if you have to. Within the group, job titles slow things down, measurably.
  6. No Interruptions. Humans are absolutely terrible at multitasking. Sadly, the research is clear that the people who think they are the best at it are actually the worst. Every time you switch tasks, from crafting a report to answering an email, your productivity plummets. Do one thing at a time. Create uninterrupted time. You will be stunned by the increase in productivity
  7. One Project at a Time. When you ask people how much of their time they spend working on a specific project it is usually less than fifty percent, and often twenty percent. Assign team members to one project 100 percent until that is done. Then go to the next one. We’ve been in companies where management claims one project is the top priority for the company–that it is a make or break project. But the people assigned to that project aren’t spending 100 percent of their time on it. It’s flabbergasting, but all too common.
  8. Prioritize. Often organizations have four or five projects going on at once, with team members switching from project to project. Everything is a priority. But when management implies that, what they are really saying is that nothing is a priority. Focus on the project with the most value. Put it at the top of the queue. Work to get it to done and then move to the next project. By focusing on one project at a time, you will deliver those five projects in less time than it would have taken if you’d worked on them all at once. And you or your customers will be making revenue off it months earlier.
  9. No Heroes. When someone makes a heroic effort to save a project–to deliver it successfully on time and under budget–they usually get slaps on the backs and high fives. But heroics aren’t a sign of greatness. They are a sign of a deeply dysfunctional system. Why were heroics required? Bad planning? Heroism should be viewed as an organizational failure, not celebrated. A Hail Mary pass in football, even if completed, is an act of desperation, not the sign of a successful team.
  10. Burn the Timesheets. Measuring how many hours an employee puts into a project is a meaningless metric. Yet it has somehow become how we pay our employees, how we write contracts, and how we evaluate effort. It’s an old saw, but whatever you measure you get more of. Does it really matter how long it took to create something? Isn’t the real metric the deliverable, the value created? Measure output, not input, and you’ll get more value delivered in less time. With SCRUM, our motto is work less, get more done. Equating hours with effort is a fool’s errand.