Sunday, May 4, 2008

Code71 at Scrum Gathering Spring 2008, Chicago

We attended Scrum Gathering Spring 2008 in windy city Chicago. This was our first time at this event. Some facts for the curious-

1. It was 8th gathering. If you don't know, Scrum Alliance hosts such events 2 times a year- one in the US during spring, and the other in Europe during fall.

2. 15 people attended in the 1st event 4 years ago. This time we had about 250 attendees.

3. Scrum is rising in popularity and so is the membership to the alliance. It has 27000+ members.
We also did a presentation on our experience in using Scrum on a large Government project, an unlikely place to consider Scrum. The presentation was well received. See Syed in action-

You can get the presentation from either the Scrum Alliance Web site or our company Web site. We also attended two sessions offered by Mike Cohn, the author of two very popular agile books, on effective story writing and estimation. We met many people. The highlights of our attendance were our lunches with Ken Schwaber (co-developed the Scrum process with Jeff Sutherland in the early 1990s) and Mike Cohn. Ken recently started recommending that Scrum of Scrum is unnecessary. He explained why at the conference as an Open Space topic. Some raised eyebrows, some were concerned, while some questioned the recommendations.

The most interesting part of the gathering was the Open Space. We participated in the Open Space sessions for the first time. It was a great experience. Open Space is a self-organizing way of conducting conference sessions/meetings. I think all conferences should have a part organized in Open Space fashion. We had great conversations on latest challenges and practices at the Open Space. One interesting topic was Lean/Kanban vs Agile/Scrum. Apparently a team at Yahoo is experimenting with Lean/Kanban for software development. After learning how it works from the person who is leading the team, our thought was it seemed like a great idea on pen and paper, but "it is not for software development." Later more on this topic. All in all, it was a great experience. We would recommend anyone practicing Agile/Scrum to attend one of these gatherings. We plan to attend the Fall gathering this year in Stockholm. We hope to see you there...:-)

By the way, we decided to postpone our Beta release of ScrumPad until the end of May. We are trying to decide on a long-term hosting platform for it. We are experimenting with Amazon cloud computing infrastructure. If we do move to AWS EC2, we probably will also introduce a new subscription model. So stay tuned for more on this.