My Primary Criticism of Scrum

On the first day of my Certified ScrumMaster course, we go over the agenda for the two days. I point out that one topic we’ll cover will be “meetings.” I usually point out that Scrum is often criticized for the amount of meetings it defines. I then claim that this is a pretty weak criticism of Scrum because...

Simplify Prioritization into “Now” and “Not Now”

The following was originally published in Mike Cohn's monthly newsletter. If you like what you're reading, sign up to have this content delivered to your inbox weeks before it's posted on the blog, here.

I think I’d like to buy a big-screen plasma television. And maybe after that, a new amplifier for my home theater.

I’ve also noticed that our home dishwasher doesn’t dry as well as it used to. For some reason,...

Choose Backlog Items That Serve Two Purposes

I've been playing a fair amount of Go lately. If you're not familiar with Go, it's a strategy game that originated in China 2,500 years ago. It's along the lines of chess, but it's about making territory with black and white pieces played on the intersections of a grid of 19x19 lines.

Like Scrum, there are very few rules in Go. Also like Scrum, there are a fair number of principles,...

Teams Should Go So Fast They Almost Spin Out of Control

Yes, I really did refer to guitarist Alvin Lee in a Certified Scrum Product Owner class last week. Here's why.

I was making a point that Scrum teams should strive to go as fast as they can without going so fast they spin out of control. Alvin Lee of the band Ten Years After was a talented guitarist known for his very fast solos. Lee's ultimate performance was of the song...

4 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Product Backlog

he following was originally published in Mike Cohn's monthly newsletter. If you like what you're reading, sign up to have this content delivered to your inbox weeks before it's posted on the blog, here.

It's May, and we're well into spring now. If you're like me, you haven't yet done your annual spring cleaning. But I'll do mine this week, if you promise to also do yours.

The type of spring cleaning I'm referring to...

Schedule vs. Cost: The Tradeoff in Agile

To a large extent, agile is about making tradeoffs. Product owners learn they can trade scope for schedule: get more later or less sooner. Agile projects need to strike a balance between no upfront thinking and too much upfront thinking, a subject I’ve written about before.

I want to write now about a tradeoff that isn’t talked about a lot in agile circles. And this is the…

The One True Way to Be Agile

There are two equally convenient routes from my house to the airport. The fastest is to take a toll road that passes about a mile from the house and goes directly to the airport. But that costs $8. The other route takes about 10 minutes longer, but saves me those eight dollars. Sometimes I take the first route...

Paying the Cost for More Precise Estimates

The following was originally published in Mike Cohn's monthly newsletter. If you like what you're reading, sign up to have this content delivered to your inbox weeks before it's posted on the blog, here.

I have no problem with a boss who asks a team to provide an estimate for how long a huge set of product backlog items will take to deliver. There could be hundreds of items – perhaps even thousands, and I have no issue with the boss asking for an estimate. I will be happy to provide a boss with...