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Let’s SCRUM Things Up:  For Project Management and Much More…

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to keeping comfort and harmony in life.  However, there is something remarkable about disrupting our personal comfort zones. And let’s face it; if we have been using the same project management tool for one hundred years, we have not improved.  How can we improve without changing?

The waterfall method for project management has had its place and served us adequately for many years.  It was my “goto” for many successful projects.  As PMs, we love our Gantt charts.  I just did not know what I did not know.  That’s the classic definition of ignorance, right?  Well, the difference between where we are today and where we will be next year, or 5 years from now is the people we meet or the books that we read. 

Several months ago, a friend gave me the book Scrum by Jeff Sutherland.  I was both disrupted and inspired simultaneously.  It rocked my world.  I mean really, can a method really produce twice the work in half the time?  Even though I am optimistic by nature, this sounded too good to be true.  During my first Scrum experience, we estimated a four week project.  It was completed the first week.  A 75% improvement over expectations really captured my attention.  Since then I have been teaching any organization that will listen to the power this tool can provide if utilized properly.  My purpose today is to share highlights in order to spark your interest in something cool and different.  Tighten your seat belt and hold on tight…we are going on a Scrum ride.

Scrum starts with the concept of O.O.D.A.; an acronym for observe, orient, decide, and act.  Instead of guessing times and outcomes too far down the road, Scrum requires constant adjustments based on current outcomes.  Mike Tyson famously said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."  Projects are often riddled with constant changes and unexpected barriers that the waterfall method simply does not take into account when planning out time and durationfor events.  Scrum requires daily OODA feedback loops that promote speed and adaptability during each sprint.

The Scrum board is a simple visual tool that breaks activities in to three columns; To-do, doing, and done.  In a glance, anyone can know where each activity is.  The to-do column is represents all the activities to be completed during each sprint (I will talk about sprints later)...

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