Book Summary SCRUM - Jeff Sutherland, PDF

SCRUM - Jeff Sutherland

Don’t be left behind! See how Scrum, the agile and adaptable structure, can revolutionize your projects.

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Learn more about the framework that was applied in companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, in the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time", directly with one of its creators: Jeff Sutherland.

Sharing success stories of the use of Scrum in the most varied companies and even in school education and in non-profit humanitarian aid organizations, Jeff Sutherland shows the power of the approach to adapt and produce positive impacts for all involved.

Get inspired by the agile culture and see the fundamentals of Scrum in this summary!

About the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time"

The book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time" was written by Jeff Sutherland and published in 2014, by Currency.

Scrum is an agile, adaptable, and self-corrective framework that was created in 1993 for software development, aiming to overcome the difficulties and disadvantages of the waterfall model.

With the goal to take Scrum to the business sectors and revolutionize different companies, Jeff Sutherland indicates, in this book, the concepts for the application of this approach.

About the author Jeff Sutherland

Jeff Sutherland was born in 1941, in the United States, and for 11 years he followed a military career, having graduated from West Point Academy.

After that, Jeff obtained his Ph. D. in Biometrics, Radiology, and Preventive Medicine, at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he worked with systems development and data collection and analysis.

Together with Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland created Scrum and was also the co-author of the Agile Manifesto. He is currently dedicated to disseminating the structure as an agile coach, CEO of Scrum Inc. , and president of Scrum Foundation.

To whom is this book indicated?

The work "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time" is recommended for managers from various sectors who wish to join the Agile Manifesto, make their companies more adaptable and their projects more agile and continuously improved according to the customer needs.

Main ideas of the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time"

  • Scrum seeks the alignment and teamwork of all involved to deliver value quickly;
  • It is based on the way people actually work;
  • The Development Team does the work in a way defined by them and guided by the Scrum Master, who helps them to perform better;
  • The Product Owner is in contact with the customer and shows what will be done;
  • To consider a task, ask yourself: "For whom will this task be done?", "What will be done first?" and "Why does the customer want this?";
  • Product development also follows the Pareto Principle: 20% of the requirements represent 80% of the product's value. Thus, the objective is to prioritize these items;
  • Presenting the minimum viable product as soon as possible provides the necessary feedback to make decisions based on what the customer is looking for;
  • Delivering increments result in minimizing the risks associated with product inadequacy.

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[Book Summary] SCRUM - Jeff Sutherland

Overview: The need for a new way of thinking

The author Jeff Sutherland shows, in the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time", how the lack of technological advances in the FBI's internal intelligence service made the 9/11 terrorist attacks unpredictable.

Recognizing the difficulty of access and lack of information sharing, the agency sought to modernize its system, initiating a first improvement project.

After three years, this project was canceled because it didn't work and a second one, called Sentinel, started with the company Lockheed.

The project's planning was presented in detail, using waterfall methods and showing defined dates and schedules using a Gantt chart, a tool created during World War I.

However, after years of development and investments, the system was still far from complete. The large number of defects that arose and the inability to resolve them indicated the need for a new way to approach the project.


Applying Scrum involves developing projects with high-quality results, in a short period, with low cost and smaller teams.

The name comes from rugby and refers to the way the team advances the ball in the game. Therefore, in Scrum the team works together, being aligned, and focused on a clear objective.

Through regular analysis of the project's development, the experience acquired by the team, and the contact with the client, the structure allows the identification of potential improvements and changes.

Thus, the idea behind Scrum is an "Inspection and Adaptation" cycle, in which reviews of what is being done are carried out with a certain frequency to verify the need for that task or how to improve it, as the author Jeff Sutherland indicates.

Back to the FBI

Jeff Johnson, assistant director of the IT Engineering Division, and Chad Fulgham, CIO, decided to take the Sentinel project internally. So, they applied Scrum and started by reducing the team and prioritizing requirements, identifying the most valuable items in the system.

The development team selected the tasks with the highest priority and committed to delivering them in full operation at the end of a given period, called the Sprint. And, at the end of each sprint, the team members asked themselves:

  • "How can we work better in the next Sprint?";
  • "What were the impediments that we had to remove during this period?";
  • "What obstacles are slowing us down?".

Based on this analysis and the workers' self-organization, Jeff Johnson and his team successfully completed the project in 20 months.

Overview: The origin and foundations of Scrum

The author Jeff Sutherland tells that in the Air Force he learned that risk control involves the steps of observing, evaluating, deciding, and taking action.

Years later, during one of his professional experiences, he worked near Rodney Brooks, one of the founders of a robotics company, iRobot, that created robots with the ability to learn their functions each time they were activated, following a series of rules and simple instructions.

Jeff says he remembered the four lessons learned in his training and envisioned self-organizing teams that would learn and improve by following a set of clear guidelines.

Inspired by this idea, he continued his career at a company called Easel, where he was challenged to develop new products in only six months.

Knowing that it would not be possible to carry out such a project based on the waterfall model, that was commonly used, Jeff Sutherland and his team, after studying projects and team organization, developed the Scrum framework, based on the lessons that great companies have:

  • Multifunctional teams, with varied skills and experiences, and with the autonomy to manage themselves;
  • Leaders focused on removing impediments to facilitate progress;
  • Flexible and fast development of projects in stages that increment;
  • Clear objective and purpose for all members of the organization.

Thus, Scrum is the way to put into practice the values present in the Agile Manifesto, as the author says:

"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; responding to change over following a plan."

Inspect and Adapt

Scrum is based on some techniques applied in Japanese industries, such as the PDCA cycle, proposed by W. Edwards Deming and which revolutionized Toyota:

  • Plan: plan how it will be done;
  • Do: do and test what has been done;
  • Check: check the results and analyze them, looking for ways to correct the problems and improve the process;
  • Act: act, implementing changes in the way of working based on what was previously analyzed.

Change or Die

As Jeff Sutherland affirms, insisting on a method that aims to have everything previously planned in the smallest details and works under "command and control" just doesn't work anymore, it just leads to the failures experienced by many companies.

For this reason, the author reinforces: change or die. An adaptable methodology is needed in an ever-changing world.

Evaluating each delivery of the project with the customers allows the team to be more aligned with their requirements and that changes and improvements are made with the aim of really producing what they want and with the highest possible quality.

Shu Ha Ri

According to what is explained in the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time", the Shu Ha Ri concept, originated in the martial arts, consists of:

  • Shu: learn the rules and forms that must be reproduced;
  • Ha: innovate from what you have learned;
  • Ri: after mastering the practice, discard the forms and be creative.

Jeff Sutherland relates this to Scrum, as it is a framework that, after learning in practice, starts to work naturally.

Task prioritization

The author Jeff Sutherland stresses the importance of prioritizing in Scrum because by allowing one task at a time to progress, classified according to its importance and added value, the focus and productivity increase.

To determine the effort required to perform a task, the "Planning Poker" is explained in the book, a quick and simple method that consists of providing numbered cards to each member.

Then, as each task is revealed, members present, at the same time, a card with a number that indicates the effort required to complete it.

If each member has a different but close number, the values are averaged. If the difference between the cards is greater than 3, the people who selected the highest and lowest value cards explain the reason for their choice, and the round is repeated to reduce that difference.

Another principle of the framework is that we should try to get things done right the first time, but if an error appears, it has to be solved immediately.

Overview: Scrum Roles

In the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time" the functions of each role within the agile Scrum are presented:

Development team

In the Scrum framework, there is no separation of positions in the teams. Each team has members with the necessary skills to design, build, and test the product, and everyone participates in the development process from the beginning to the end.

For this reason, teams are multifunctional, so that the diversity of backgrounds, strengths, and experiences of each one is complementary to the characteristics of the others.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is someone who has a mastery of the Scrum structure, acting as an advisor and as a facilitator, and the goal to help the team identify and deal with the impediments that arise throughout the project.

This person also guides, at the end of each Sprint, to the following questions that enable the continuous improvement of everyone's work:

  • "How can we do better what we do?";
  • "What can we change in the way we work?";
  • "What is our biggest problem?".

Product Owner

The Product Owner is in contact with the stakeholders, receiving the opinions, and feedback from customers. With this information, this person is able to transmit to the team the vision and decisions related to the development of the project from the client's point of view.

Also, this role needs to explain to the team what should be done and for what reason, but who decides how it will be done is the team.

The Product Backlog is a list made by the Product Owner that contains all the tasks that are performed by the development team. Before each sprint, the team selects, in the Product Backlog, the items they will produce, thus forming the Sprint Backlog.

With the development team, the Product Owner also decides what the "end" of the work means, its completion, known in Scrum as the Definition of Done.

Overview: Scrum Ceremonies

As author Jeff Sutherland explains in the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time", the phases organize the project's objectives and the division of tasks. Learn more about them:

  • Sprint Planning: it is a meeting that defines the User Stories for the Sprint that will start. The number of tasks is estimated based on the previous Sprint, equaling the total points achieved (team velocity) and trying to increase it by removing barriers;
  • Sprint: each Sprint represents an increment in product development, corresponding to a list of tasks (or User Stories) that will be carried out by the team over a specified time (usually 4 weeks) and delivered according to the Definition of Done;
  • Daily meeting or Daily Scrum: also called Stand-up Meeting, it is a quick meeting (up to 15 minutes), held every day at the same time, in which the Scrum Master asks team members: "What did you do yesterday to help the team complete the Sprint?", "What will you do today to help the team complete the Sprint?", and "What impediments are being faced by the team?";
  • Sprint Review: delivery of what was done during the Sprint to the customer to receive their feedback;
  • Sprint Retrospective: after delivering value, it is time to think about the method and seek continuous improvement by implementing changes.

What do other authors say about it?

In "The One Thing", Gary Keller and Jay Papasan show how prioritizing and focusing on one activity at a time increases your performance and brings better results.

Paulo Caroli, in the book "Lean Inception", explains that presenting the minimum viable product (MVP) is a way of verifying the interest in that project and validating the premises built on it. Thus, improvements can be developed quickly and inexpensively.

And if you want to test your product before delivering it to customers, to capture their perceptions for opportunities for improvement, with the book "SPRINT" you will build one in five days.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

After understanding the Scrum concepts and phases, seen throughout this summary, here are some practical ways to get started:

  1. Choose the Product Owner and Scrum Master and organize the Development Team, seeking diversity and the skills needed for the project;
  2. With the vision of the product to be developed, create the Product Backlog and prioritize the items that represent a greater delivery of value;
  3. Create the Sprint Backlog, selecting the tasks that will be performed in the Sprint that will start;
  4. Make all the work visual with the use of post-its boards that divide the tasks into: "To Do", "Doing" and "Done";
  5. Solve the obstacles and impediments observed in daily meetings;
  6. When delivering the product increment and receiving feedback, refine the Product Backlog to meet requests and prioritize more appropriately what is seen as of greatest value to the customer;
  7. And seek continuous improvement, implementing the changes suggested in the sprint retrospective.

If you want to take Scrum to your workplace, but are finding resistance to the adoption of the agile mindset, a tip is to show the benefits and advantages, sharing successful cases, and presenting the results on a pilot scale.

Did you like this summary of the book "SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time"?

Are you convinced to adopt Scrum in your projects? Tell us in the comments, your opinion is very important!

To learn more about the framework and see the lessons of the author Jeff Sutherland in detail, purchase the full version of the book by clicking on the image below:

Book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”