30 Second Agile Pitch

I was just over at the AgileScout website and read an entertaining account of his trip to the supermarket.  It went a little something like this:

This past weekend, like every weekend, I go to Whole Foods with my wife for our weekly food run. While sampling some of the very good wine, I ran into an old neighbor that I hadn’t seen in years.

We ended up having a long conversation about his company doing this whole “Agile and Scrum thing.” I found myself saying things like the following to help clarify his questions:

  • “Yes, that is Agile.”
  • “No, that’s not a Scrum principle.”
  • “Yes, that’s part of iterative development.”
  • “Well, that isn’t explicitly in Agile…”
  • “Well, Scrum doesn’t prescribe you to do…
  • “No, that would be waterfall…”
  • “Can we… I… get back to drinking free wine?…”

30 second Agile pitchThis reminded me of a very similar experience I had when my wife and I met some friends for dinner. One of them asked what I did exactly.  When I offered a 30 second explanation and included Agile, I got a quick “we do that at work” response. I was pleasantly surprised so I asked in what ways they leveraged Agile principles and approaches. Now, I’m no dogmatic Agilist but the follow-up response had me shaking my head. I wasn’t going to outright argue with her but she correlated doing something as fast as possible as being Agile. No collaboration, no planning, monitoring, or adapting. To her, anarchy and Agile were pretty much synonymous.

For all of you project managers, project leaders, facilitators, ScrumMasters, coaches or whatever you may call yourself, what would be your 30 second pitch?  Do you think you could explain what you do (to a layman) in 30 seconds?  I'd love hear some of your pitches.

Image: Pictofigo HT: AgileScout

New ScrumMaster Poster

ScrumMasterOur newest Scrum poster(s) are ready!  We started with a poster that included the 3 primary roles of Scrum.  We then singled out each of the roles and made individual posters.  First up, the ScrumMaster.  This poster depicts a ScrumMaster with a taskboard and burndown chart behind him.  Below are the activities associated with the ScrumMaster as detailed by the Scrum Alliance. Please note, the female version of this poster will be out soon.

This poster has been discounted, compared to our others. Download the 300DPI image file for $14.99 to use on your own products or buy the poster!

Posters Mini (Size: 11" x 17") $9.99 Small (Size: 13" x 20") $17.99 Large (Size:23" x 34.5") $21.99

Pictofigo Premium & Agile Scrum

The Sprint - Male ScrumMaster A few months ago, I partnered with Pictofigo, which provides high quality free hand drawings for Agile and Scrum proponents, tradition project managers, professionals, presenters, developers, web designers...  The list of people and groups which can benefit from these free drawings goes on and on.  Why use a Pictofigo drawing?Basically, if you need a drawing and the usual clip art just isn't going to cut it, Pictofigo could be a nice solution for you.  The count of free drawings is currently over 700 and growing.

So, what is new?  It's called Pictofigo Premium.  Pictofigo Premium, a brand new service, offers high resolution drawings for download and use.  These are print-ready graphics.  At launch, there are four premium drawings ready for download with more on the way.

If there is one thing I've learned, it's to offer visual aids to help communicate information.  That and they cover unsightly holes in the wall.  As a result, I've partnered with Pictofigo to create one-of-a-kind Agile Scrum posters.  Our first poster titled THE SPRINT will be offered in both male and female ScrumMaster versions.

The Sprint

Perfect for dressing up any shared workspace. THE SPRINT (Male ScrumMaster) captures each of the Scrum Roles, Meetings, and Artifacts in an easy to follow workflow format. It doesn't matter if you're a chicken or a pig, you and your team will love this. This version depicts a male ScrumMaster with his team.

Large Poster (Size:34.5" x 23") Get it now for just $24.99

Small Poster (Size: 20" x 13") Get it now for just $19.99

Mini Poster (Size: 17" x 11") Get it now for just $14.99

But what if you want to make more posters for yourself and your team and don't want buy one poster at a time?  What if you want to make this your desktop wallpaper or put it in your next PowerPoint presentation?  Well, you can get the same high resolution file used to create the poster directly from Premium Pictofigo!

Get The Sprint (Male ScrumMaster) in 300DPI

Get The Sprint (Female ScrumMaster) in 300DPI

Don't forget to check back really soon! We'll be linking to the The Sprint (Female ScrumMaster) poster and also Scrum Roles (Male and Female ScrumMaster) posters

Understanding Agile Scrum and common terms

I've been in a few meetings this last week where people were mentioning Scrum terms but didn't know what they were. It's not their fault. The person introducing the terms into the project vocabulary should have provided an explanation before referencing them.

For those of you new to Agile Scrum, here are a few basics:

What is Agile Scrum? There are many specific agile development methods. Most promote development iterations, teamwork, collaboration, and process adaptability throughout the lifecycle of the project.  Agile methods choose to do things in small increments with minimal planning, rather than long-term detailed planning.  There is a heavy emphasis on face-to-face communication over written communication.

Agile Scrum is not ideal for every project.  If the project has high criticality, is using junior developers, has clearly established requirements that do not change often, employs a large number of developers, you should think twice about using it as your method of choice.

I've seen it work very well with small (5-9 member) teams, where all the stakeholder knew they wanted "something" within a short period of time.  They did not know specifically what it was nor how to get from start to finish.  We used a lot of wireframes and prototypes to get us in the ballpark, until we could lock down clear functional and design requirements.

I think it's important for people to understand key terms in Agile Scrum as they relate to other project management methodologies.


Product Owner The person responsible for maintaining the Product Backlog by representing the interests of the stakeholders.  This owner could be a project manager, director...  Whatever their title, they must have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the project.

ScrumMaster The person responsible for the Scrum process, making sure it is used correctly and maximizes its benefits.  This is NOT a project manager.  This person is a facilitator.  They are merely there as a communications bridge and to offer motivation or remove impediments.

Team A cross-functional group of people responsible for managing itself to develop the product.  This is a small team (5-9) consisting of at least one person from each area (BA, QA, Risk, CM, Software Engineering...)  This team traditionally sits in the same room or area.

Scrum Team Product Owner, ScrumMaster and Team.  Everyone directly involved in the project, with the exception of users, stakeholders, and managers.


Sprint burn down chart Daily progress for a Sprint over the sprint's duration.  This chart can replace a Gantt chart in illustration of progress.

Product backlog A prioritized list of high level deliverables assigned to teams.  This list is similar to milestone deliveries you'd find in a Work Breakdown Structure.  These deliverables will still need to be decomposed (in the sprint backlog).

Sprint backlog A list of tasks to be completed during the sprint and assigned to individuals.  These are the actual decomposed items from the product backlog.  This list must be agreed to by the entire team prior to the sprint actually beginning.  If there is a change in the scope of the sprint backlog during a sprint, the sprint must be immediately stopped and scope redefined.


Sprint A time period (typically between 2 weeks and 1 month) in which development occurs on a set of backlog items that the Team has committed to.  Sprint time periods are established to provide enough time to deliver something, get feedback, and begin another iteration.

Product An output requested by the customer.  It is a completed document, process, web page, database...  Regardless of what it is, the customer believes that it has value.

Other terms to be listed in a later post: Sashimi, timebox, daily scrum, chickens, pigs, retrospective, user stories...