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Agile Mentors Podcast

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#59: Revising the Scrum Guide with Don McGreal

August 02, 2023     43 minutes

In this episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast, Brian welcomes Don McGreal to discuss the revision of the Scrum Guide and the delicate balance between staying true to the core principles of Scrum while allowing for necessary flexibility.


In this episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast, Brian is joined by Don McGreal, to delve into the topic of revising the Scrum Guide.

Don shares some of the behind-the-scenes of the decision-making process, and the rationale behind the crucial revisions that have shaped the latest version of the Scrum Guide.

Listen in to gain a deeper understanding of the principles that guide Scrum and how they continue to evolve and the delicate balance between staying true to the core principles while allowing for necessary flexibility.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:11] - Brian welcomes us to the show and introduces his guest, Don McGreal, the Founder and Vice President of Learning Solutions for Improving, author of “The Professional Product Owner” and a big name in the community to talk about revising the Scrum Guide.
[04:27] - Don shares how he got involved in revising the Scrum Guide.
[05:21] - One team, one group focused on the product.
[06:57] - What a scrum team consists of now and why they made the change.
[08:11]- We don't expect you to have a title on your business card.
[08:53] -The switch from role to accountability.
[10:51] - Ten people on a team, one Scrum master, one product owner: It's not illegal in Scrum to take on more than one set of accountabilities or have a bigger team but there are risks involved.
[12:51] - Three people using Scrum to work through treatments for a child with autism.
[13:34] - Why the team decided to stick with the term "developer."
[16:22] - Other terms, including "sprint" and 'backlog" that caused debates and why they stuck.
[17:39] - Scrum sounds different because it IS.
[18:20] - True Leader: the hot-button topic in the scrum guide that people are still debating, and how they landed on their decision.
[19:52] - Clarifying the term "serve" and the need for true leaders who empower the team and make things happen beyond just serving.
[21:21] - Today’s show is brought to you by Mountain Goat Software's, Advanced Certified Product Owner® Course, which aims to enhance product owners' skills, confidence, and credibility. The course offers lifetime access to materials and interactive software for valuable and enjoyable breakout exercises. Additionally, participants gain access to Mike Cohn's Agile Mentors Community, with 12 months of ongoing coaching and support.
[22:00] - The decision to drop the three questions from the Daily and the new approach.
[22:47] - A significant addition to the Scrum framework – the concept of a product goal representing the journey towards a vision.
[23:40] - The (results-driven) power of the product goal as inspired by “The 4 Disciplines of Execution." and how it’s changed how backlogs are managed and success is measured.
[25:00] - Changing the measure of success: measuring success by value rather than checking things off a backlog list.
[25:26] - The vision is the big idea-the product goal is the milestone. It's a step towards the vision.
[26:21] - In the revised Scrum Guide, the product goal is now part of the product backlog, emphasizing a commitment to achieving objectives with sprint and product goals focusing on the overall goal, not every task, while the Definition of Done ensures the increment's success.
[29:28] - Before the new Scrum Guide, teams working on multiple products had debates on having one prioritized backlog or multiple lists.
[30:12] - How the introduction of the product goal in the Scrum Guide directed teams towards having one focused direction, (preventing everything from being equally important).
[31:06] - How emphasizing one strategic focus helped teams with multiple products alleviate challenges with prioritizing and improved their approach and alignment.
[31:43] - Product backlog with mixed products lacks direction. Product goal provides focus without excluding other items.
[33:15] - Some of the controversial changes, like making refinement an event and concerns about terminology like "master" in Scrum roles.
[34:49] - The term "immutable" in the Scrum Guide means unchanging, which some find bothersome, but it serves to maintain consistency and distinguish genuine Scrum from modified versions.
[36:49] - It's immutable, and it isn't suffocating. It's a lightweight framework described in a 13-page document—there's a lot of wiggle room in there—give it a shot and give it its best chance to succeed by following these simple rules.
[37:28] - Change it if you must but then stop calling it Scrum.
[38:05] - The sacred text about Scrum is meant to be easy to take on, helpful…AND flexible.
[39:22] - Learning from the early days: streamlining a 200-300 page document with legal complexities into the current Scrum Guide, while aiming to distill its essence and promote simplicity and accessibility.
[40:48] - You can find out more about Don and Improving by visiting their website. Additionally, Don's book, "The Professional Product Owner," can be found on Amazon.
[41:07] - If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support us is to share it with others and subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts. Your feedback is valuable, so feel free to email us by clicking here.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

Scrum Guides
The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage
The 4 Disciplines of Execution
Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner®
Join the Agile Mentors Community
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts

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This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is the SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He's passionate about making a difference in people's day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

Don McGreal is Vice President of Learning Solutions at Improving, and author of the best-selling book: 'The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage', and a Professional Scrum Trainer who has authored and taught classes for thousands of professionals around the globe.