Book Review: Scrum by Jeff Sutherland

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Title & Author: Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
Genre: Business

A few months ago I took on a new role at my company. I went from project management, website QA, and a bit of content management to becoming the ScrumMaster for the web development team (and still doing that other stuff temporarily). After going through the official ScrumMaster training and receiving my certification, I realized I wanted to read a bit more about it to help reinforce best practices. As luck would have it one of the creators of scrum, Jeff Sutherland, had recently released a new book with lots of examples showing scrum in action. I picked it up as soon as humanly possible and devoured it!

Scrum, for those who aren’t familiar, is a business methodology that allows a team to respond more quickly to changes. We all know changes are going to happen – no matter how many spreadsheets and graphs you create, you’re never going to prevent change. It’s far better to learn how to adapt for when those changes head in your direction. I won’t go into all the details of the scrum process here but it’s basically an inverse of the waterfall method, which has been the primary business methodology in the US for ages.

The main thing that I enjoyed about this book was the variety of examples offered by Sutherland. Scrum is used pretty widely in the field of software development so it was nice to read examples from other industries. It makes the book accessible to a wider audience while also showing concepts from a fresh perspective. Each chapter features a story about a different project or company and how scrum was implemented to turn the ship around. I found it very interesting to read about the scrum process applied in class by a teacher in the Netherlands or used by an NPR reporting team on the ground in the Middle East. And the stories where teams hadn’t used scrum were just as fascinating (although not as happy).

All that said, scrum is not going to work for everyone. This isn’t scrum’s fault – in my opinion – so much as implementation error or possibly an inability to change behaviors. Scrum requires everyone on the team to be an active participant in the process. It’s a completely different mindset from traditional business methods. If your whole team isn’t on board with these changes, or if it’s not implemented correctly, then it’s not going to work at an optimum level. This book isn’t a manual for implementing scrum at your workplace but a guide to how and why scrum can be so successful.


Verdict: This book won’t teach you the ins and outs of scrum – there are many other books out there that can manage that – but it will give prime examples of how scrum is used in a plethora of industries if you’re interested in making the switch.
Recommended for: Those who have a basic understanding of the scrum process but would like more examples of how it could be applied in their industry or anyone looking to improve business practices.
Price: $11.99 (Kindle) – $15.46 (hardcover) on Amazon

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