Friday, October 23, 2009

Ban Double Speak in Congress

Senator John McCain introduces a bill named "Internet Freedom Act".  It is designed to give broadband providers the right to block applications and content.

“Today I’m pleased to introduce the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation, it will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy.” - McCain
So blocking the Net Neutrality Rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission designed for freedom of access would be McCain's idea of freedom.

I think one of the problems we have in this wonderful country is we (the population) allow this type of double speak from people that should be held to a higher standard.  I just lost some respect for McCain, I thought he was a better man than that.

How would a process for naming effect the bill naming of congress - wonder if they ever pass the 1st stage - Nonsense?

The Fun Theory Contest - have fun

A company known for fun, Volkswagen (VW) is sponsoring the contest, to prove that fun is more fun than not having fun and therefore changes human behavior.

Win 2500 EU  The Fun Theory

Watch the YouTube examples, create your own idea and enter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What does it mean to be a Team Player?

Being on a team is a privilege not a right.  Some people inherently understand this, some do not.  Marcus Jordan, freshman guard for University of Central Florida, doesn't want to wear the team shoes.  It is big money for sports teams to make deals with sponsors - this one is $3 million.  Why does Marcus refuse to wear the team shoe?  The team shoe is Adidas, and Marcus is fond of his father's famous Nike Air Jordan.

So if you were the coach, what would you do?

Marcus Jordan

What were the choices for Marcus?  To wear the Adidas shoes and explain to the press that he was wearing the team shoe.  This has been referred to as "taking one for the team".  Or he could play the "I'm special" card.  Which is what he choose to do.

Is having a special player on the team, good for the team?

I have fond memories of Michael Jordan playing for UNC.  He was  great player for many reasons.  One was that he was so very hard to defend when driving to the basket, the defender didn't know if he would pass or take it to the hoop.  He was a team player.  He was perhaps the epitome of a team player.  So I ask myself what Coach Dean Smith would have done?

Coach Smith would have protected the team.  If the player could not play team ball, they would not play for Smith.  UCF has options in this fiasco - bench or eject the player from the team.  If you don't wear the uniform you don't play ball.  It is very simple.

Ref:  ESPN

Proposal to Adopt Agile Development Methods

Proposal to Adopt Agile Development Methods
David Koontz
Chapman University College

Proposal to Adopt Agile Development Methods

Welcome to the Twenty First Century.  We have amazing technology, a complex ecosystem of global industry, and a systems-thinking learning organization.  However, we are using antiquated software development methods. Our home-grown methodology based upon a manufacturing model of large up-front detail designs, construction, then verification, and finally production is a phased or largely sequential software development process.  This process does not work well for software - a very malleable product.  Our project success rate of 32% is slightly better than the industry average of 28% (small companies) reported in the CHAOS Report (Johnson, 1995).  However, if we continue to fail two-thirds of the time, we may find ourselves at the back of the pack, and possibly in the bankruptcy courts.
Agile software development is a family of methodologies based on iterative and incremental adaptive development with lightweight process controls featuring highly collaborative environments with disciplined technical practices.  It focuses on delivering frequently and embracing changing requirements.  Many more companies are adopting Agile software development practices.  The trend is no longer a fad.  The results of Agile Transformation are clearly higher productivity, greater product quality, greater business customer satisfaction, with equal or lower cost of development (Appendix A) (Ambler, 2008).  The success rates of Agile teams exceed 80% (Ambler, 2008).  This is a drastic change from one in three successful projects to four out of five project successes.
An Agile Culture
An Agile organization, at the company level or at the project team level would exhibit the values of the Agile Manifesto:
Manifesto for Agile Software Development
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. (Beck et al., 2001/2001)
The 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto (Appendix B) could be used to assess the organization as it transitions into a more Agile organization.
Business cultural changes are notoriously difficult.  It is one thing to pronounce that the company will adopt an Agile method or even that we wish to have an Agile philosophy; it will however be a completely different thing to manage a longterm transition toward those goals.  One lens through which we may view radical changes of this nature is the Bridges Transition model.  This model reminds us that changes may be as simple as announcing the goal. The transition, however, is more complex.  The transition is the path of growth that will lead to the goal, “composed of (1) and ending, (2) a neutral zone, and (3) a new beginning” (Bridges, 2004, p. 4).  Viewed through the lens of the Transition model the first phase is the ending.  That would be the point at which the organization decided to change to an Agile organization, and announce the vision. To end the waterfall of phased development.  The neutral zone is the gap between our old well known process and the new beginning when our new Agile processes are well known. A feeling that for a period of time the company may be lost, and misdirected, a feeling that may be greatly amplified as we learn and grow into this new organization and become the new company.   Bridges (2004) notes that the neutral zone is a time of learning. The new beginning, is marked by the point at which we naturally start to think of ourselves as an Agile organization, not questioning if we are, but knowing that we are Agile.  The beginning will mark new and unknown opportunities for the organization.  The ability to quickly recognize market shifts and respond to changing requirements by delivering high quality applications and software services that meet customer’s current needs.  Along with an ability to evolve our solutions as new needs arise.  Responding to valuable feedback from customers and incorporating that into new features while rapidly delivering those solutions will make our company successful.
Behaviors of an Agile Organization
Delivering frequent customer value is the hallmark of an Agile company.  To continually provide working software to our customers we must have processes that allow for last minute changes that add value.  Development processes that embrace change, rather than resist change, are goals of an Agile organization; for life is the act of constant change. 
Agile development practice allow for evolving designs rather than planning for static designs implemented in construction phases. Spending less time in up-front requirements gathering and specification elaboration phases requires trust.  Trust that the team can and will turn a requirement, even poorly specified, into actual working software.  Trust that the business will manage the resources well.  Build the most valuable assets early, not wasting energy on bells and whistles that customers do not desire. Our development teams must collaborate with the business groups on a daily basis throughout the design.  This will require commitments on both sides, as detailed plans will not be developed; therefore constant input and feedback must be part of the process.  Mistakes must be allowed to happen, even encouraged, for it is in errors that we learn the most.  Risk of large mistakes will be mitigated with short duration iterations (time-box) of design and development.  The result of each iteration will be a functional product, demonstrated to the project stakeholders for evaluation and feedback.  Adjustments will become the norm; adjustments in project scope, features, release plans, and timeframes.  These adjustment may be as large as the cancelation of a project; but when successful these adjustments will be the minor corrections that one makes to navigate the highway while driving a car.
Leadership in an Agile Organization
Agile development requires that the management assemble a group, give the group some clear goals, support the group, negotiate with the group on all aspects of constraints, and then leave the group to self-organize, and allow the power of motivated individuals joining with other individuals into a team resolving and solving the problems required to achieve the goal. In these work groups leaders will emerge.  Given clear concise goals the group will form into a team.  A typical solution for team leadership and Agile process control is the Scrum framework.  Scrum is a lightweight process framework, based in empirical process control theory, which uses an iterative and incremental approach to “optimize predictability and control risk” (Schwaber, 2009, p. 1).  The Scrum framework defines only three roles for the process, a team of developers responsible for the product, a Product Owner ultimately responsible for the project return on investment (ROI), and a Scrum Master responsible for the process.  Scrum is one of many Agile processes.  It is recommended as the cornerstone of our Agile transformation because it is widely known, well defined, simple, and easy to learn.  Although it may be considered very hard to master; like riding a wild mustang on the range, it requires constant attention to the nuances of the team, processes, and product.  A Scrum Master may play a leadership role for the team, however there is no direct authority over the team members except for process authority.  The Scrum Master will be a facilitator for the Scrum process teaching other team members, the Product Owner, and stakeholders their responsibilities and roles.  The Scrum Master does not lead the team, they allow the team to develop its own leadership.  Emergent leaders in self-directed teams have greater  emotional connection with the group, and exhibit empathy for the context surrounding the group.  This context allows emergent leaders greater effectiveness in directing group performance (Cohen & Bailey, 1997).
Scrum can be successfully applied outside of a software or product development environment.  We may find upon a successful transition of the development practices that Scrum is a valuable tool in higher levels of our organization. Aspects of empirical process control with its emphasis on inspecting actual progress and adapting the next iteration to be incrementally better is inherent in organizational development methods also.  Opportunities await us along the path to Agile Transformation.
The Feel of an Agile Organization
Our current perception of a world where technologies change so fast as to leave us all behind will change when we can keep pace with the industry. When we have made significant progress toward our goal of becoming an Agile software development group we should be capable of taking rapid advantage of emerging technologies.  The strategic vision of transitioning our legacy products to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) will benefit from the ability to adapt to rapidly evolving standards in the new paradigm.  The development teams will be capable of using new Web 2.0 techniques that allow our User Experience designers more freedom in user interface interaction delivering a richer experience to our customers.
Product design will become a richer collaborative process, using the broad skills of many team members across our diverse organization.  A more cohesive, inclusive, and participatory product development environment should result in higher quality and insanely great products.
One principle of Agile is the sustainable pace.  We need to maintain a development pace that does not require late-nights, weekends, and a “death march” (Brooks Jr, 1995) to production.  With the addition of Agile skill sets from the Extreme Programing (XP) methods we expect developer job satisfaction to increase.  The XP practices of Continuous Integration (CI), Test-Driven Development (TDD), and Pair Programming (PP) will change the nature of the daily work of the software development group.  This will require training, coaching, and experience for our people. The physical space will also change.  Working alone in a cubicle from specification documents written 16 months prior is a practice of past eras.  A project team room that concentrates the software development group along with the product development group will increase just-in-time communication.  Teamwork will build tacit knowledge of who knowns what details and problem solving skills.  We will use techniques such as pair programming to build knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) within our Scrum teams.  The use of TDD will create a suite of tests (a safety net) that provides value to the development team (including the embedded quality assurance specialist). Tests will prove that the product functions as desired.  The CI system and the automated build system will allow push-button deployment of our products to System Test Servers.  Allowing frequent (almost anytime) deployment of our SOA products allowing the Product Owner to quicken the return on investment (ROI).
Dr. Dobb’s Journal article reporting on Scott Ambler’s Agile adoption and success rate survey (Feb. 2008) concluded: “In short, becoming more agile appears to be low-risk decision for senior IT management” (Ambler, 2008).
The Value Bottom Line
The value of a transition from our waterfall process to an Agile process will deliver both intrinsic values and extrinsic benefits.  Our recent effort in Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting, summarized by SustainAbility’s “people, planet, profit” phrase, will resonate with Agile’s people-centric view of our human capital.  A list of Agile’s intrinsic values are:

  1. Employee job satisfaction (motivation, sustainable pace, enjoyment)

  2. Humanistic values (trust in people and collaboration)

  3. Maximize project success rates (78% overall success rate; 83% co-located)

  4. Quicker time to market (releasable “barely sufficient” products)

  5. Reduction in the Cost of Change (less requirement defects, less bug fixes)

  6. Quicker time to project ROI (via more frequent release to production)

  7. Greater Productivity (82% of respondents perceived higher productivity)

  8. Higher Quality (77% of respondents perceived higher quality)

  9. Higher Stakeholder Satisfaction (78% of respondents perceived higher satisfaction)

  10. Lower Development Cost (37% of respondents perceived lower cost)

(Ambler, 2008, statistics from survey).
The extrinsic benefits will be realized as we transition to an Agile organization, these may include:  customer loyalty due to great products, ease of recruiting due to improved work environment, status in the industry and the Agile community, etc.
Expected Results
The Agile transformation will require time and patience, as well as skilled coaching.  It is expected that results in team work environments and project quality will be the first benefits to be realized.  New Scrum teams learn quickly but must be given the opportunity to make and correct their own mistakes along the Agile path.  At Yahoo Sutherland (2009) reports using a technique to jump start Scrum teams when “properly coached delivered 300-400% improvements” (p. 1).  “The best Scrum teams in the world average 750% gains over the velocity of waterfall teams with much higher quality, customer satisfaction, and developer experience” (Sutherland, 2009, p. 1).  A team at Jayway in Sweden “doing two week sprints achieved 375% of initial velocity in six sprints” (Sutherland, 2009, p. 4). Other benefits of Agile adoption will take longer to materialize, and largely depend upon the attitude of the company at large.  “Scrum was institutionalized at Systematic over a period of approximately six months” (Jakobsen & Sutherland, 2009, p. 1).  Systematic was found to be CMMI level-5 compliant in 2005, and adopted Scrum in 2006 (Jakobsen & Sutherland, 2009, p. 1). Many of the corporate level benefits are only seen in the later stages of complete transformation to an Agile corporation.
Consequences of Inaction
The status quo of failing projects after months and even years of development are in store for the long run, unless, we act to change.  Some project are bound to fail, we take risk and judge the rewards worth the cost.  However, even the Agile concept of a success when we fail fast, saving the cost of further investment in a poor idea, is a benefit that we do not currently have with our software development lifecycle.  We must invest upwards of 80% of the total project cost before we can make go no-go decision based upon functional working software.
Action Plan
First Steps
Training is the first step after a decision by corporate management.  We must all speak a common language regarding the Agile philosophy and lexicon.  Scrum training is the easiest Agile training obtainable and is offered at reasonable cost for ad hoc attendance of two day seminars, or a Certified Scrum Trainer may be engaged to come on site.  This would be considered initial training for key personnel and valuable for further organizational change development planning stages.  Educating ourselves on the Agile values and methods and then developing our organizational change action plans within a Scrum model of inspecting and adapting will be a great experience for our management team. A further step will be to hire an Agile coach, a person to guide the organization, to mentor future Scrum Masters, Product Owners as well as Team Members.  This person will be tasked with oversight of the change initiative, and report to the VP of Product Development.
The Map is Not the Terrain
In the Robert DeNiro film “Ronin”, DeNiro's character Sam expresses the need to actually see the place, to physically be in the space:  “The map, the map, the map. The map is not the terrain.”  An action plan is not the Agile path we will traverse.  Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The plan is useless; it’s the planning that’s important.”
Kurt Lewin’s Action Research model of organizational development and change will be to overarching approach.  It meshes well with the Scrum framework.  Action Research is a cyclic process model facilitated by an Organizational Development (OD) Practitioner, which relies heavily upon the collaboration of a client group (transformation team) for exploration of data, problem space diagnosis, action planning, implementation, evaluation of interventions, and further cycles of planning, actions, and post action assessment (Jackson, 2006).
In the cyclic process of Action Research we have reached step (3) preliminary diagnosis.  A problem has been perceived (step 1), and collaboration with an OD practitioner (step 2) has commenced.  The preliminary diagnosis (step 3) is to institute an Agile transformation of the software development group.  With a possible larger transformation of the company as an organization in the future.  The future steps are: (4) gather data from the transformation team, (5) data feedback to the team, (6) team exploration of data and problem domain, (7) team action planning, (8) team takes action, (9) post action evaluation and data gathering, (10) new action planning by team, (11) new action taken by team, (12) post action assessment, then a repeating of the cycle (Jackson, 2006, p. 140).  However, let us take first steps first.  The Scrum training of key personnel would be the preliminary recommendation of an action.  The transformation team and executive management should take this proposal under consideration and decide if this is the proper course of action.  In other words, will they commit the company to this Agile course of action?  Knowing full well that our plans may need to be adjusted, and being responsible for evaluation of the action, and any future adjustments necessary.
Resonance with Organization Development Theories
The cultural change that an Agile transformation requires may be analyzed via Force Field Analysis. “In planning for change, it is advantageous to identify those conditions that will help or hinder the change initiative” (Jackson, 2006, p. 145).  The transformation team may use this tool to identify the driving and restraining forces for the Agile transformation initiative.  After identifying all forces both pro and con the forces are assigned relative weights (or points).  The weights allow some subjective measure of the effort the force applies to the current situation (status quo).  Analyzing these forces the team will try to strengthening the driving forces while weakening the restraining forces, and possibly devising strategies to flip a force from restraining to driving.  This will allow the team to identify impediments to the initiative and seek management support in removing the impediments (a role of the Scrum Master).
Action Research Becomes Scrum
The team members trained in Scrum will recognize may of the aspects of Organizational Development methods such as Action Research.  Scrum and many of the Agile processes draw on years of research and studies of team dynamics, process workflow, continuous improvement, systems-thinking, and organizational learning (Sutherland, 2004).  Scrum uses very small iterations and feedback loops on many levels to plan work over a short duration, inspect the progress of the work done, to expressly define the standards of completed work, and to reflect upon the work, processes, and techniques to constantly improve and move forward.
Methods to Facilitate Transition
Many Agile development groups have embraced more humanistic values for work, attempting to capitalize on knowledge workers innate desire to enjoy their work and their internal motivation.  Herzberg’s Two-factor theory is applicable to this situation.  Also referred to as the Motivation-hygiene theory, it describes the factors that lead to worker satisfaction (motivators) and factors that lead to dissatisfaction (hygiene) if not attended to well.  Herzberg concluded that the satisfaction scale was not a single continuum.  The factors that lead to dissatisfaction (work conditions, salary, relationships, supervision) when poorly managed, did not lead to satisfaction when expertly managed.  There are very different factors that lead to satisfaction.  These motivating factors are: growth, advancement, responsibility, recognition, achievement, and work itself (Robbins & Judge, 2009).  Agile methods support these motivational factors in the work place.  Additionally many Agile teams use Appreciative Inquiry during retrospectives.  Appreciative Inquiry “seeks to identify the unique qualities and special strengths of an organization, which can then be built on to improve performance.  That is, it focuses on an organization’s successes rather than on its problems” (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p. 632).  Scrum requires a team retrospective each sprint (iteration), this is a process inspection and a chance for adaption.  Using Appreciative Inquiry builds on teams ability to learn and improve, recognizing that perfect execution may be a goal, but rarely attainable on the first several attempts.
Organizational Change was studied by Kotter, who developed an eight step change model largely from the failures of companies engaged in change initiatives. “A few of these corporate change efforts have been very successful. A few have been utter failures. Most fall somewhere in between, with a distinct tilt toward the lower end of the scale” (Kotter, 2007, p. 96). Kotter’s recommendation are: “(1) Establish a sense of urgency; (2) Create the guiding coalition; (3) Develop a vision and strategy;  (4) Communicate the change vision; (5) Empower broad-based action; (6) Create short-term wins; (7) Consolidate gains and produce more change; (8) Anchor new approaches in the culture - make it stick” (Jackson, 2006, pp. 166-167).  Kotter (2007) warns that skipping steps or not given proper attention to a step is the typically mistake made by failing corporations.  There are valuable lessons to learn from these mistakes.
Recognizing Success - Metrics
Scrum uses very simple tools for measuring iteration success.  These metrics are the Scrum task board with task to be done, the in-process task, and the done task.  The task board will be the center of activity during stand-up meetings each morning.  A quick look at the board allows everyone to see progress being made and the work remaining during the sprint.  It is the Scrum team’s job to manage this and radiate the information to all.  Another information radiator is the release burn-down chart showing the completed work and remaining work required for a product release. The physical changes in Agile adoptions will be easy to recognize.  These will be groups of strangers forming teams, teamwork and group discussions, “big visible charts” used as information radiators (burn-down chart), stand-up meetings, product demonstration, application  test suite pass/fail monitors, project build charts, broken build email notifications, the list goes on and on.  One specific example; on some teams the engineers wire-in a flashing red light to the build machine, if a build fails the flashing light alerts everyone in the room.  Quick action by the developer that broke the build by committing the defective code is the result.  This “stop the line” behavior will become obvious to management that takes the time to understand the Agile process. 
Agility of our development organization may be measured by several instruments.  Cautions using these instruments should be used as they are not as well studied as may psychometric test such as IQ test or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for example.  The simple 10 question Nokia Test is one example.  “The Nokia test is a similar to a maintenance check on your car. It looks at whether your tires have air, your tank has gas, all cylinders are firing, and makes sure there are no critical missing pieces to your car. You should perform it before you go out for a drive with your Scrum team” (Sutherland, 2009).  A more comprehensive measure that allows organizations to perform longitudinal studies of improvement in Agility is the Comparative Agility™ survey by Cohn and Rubin (2008). This survey is available free of charge on the web (  However, it has not been studied for reliability and validity.  Of course, the Action Research transformation team will evaluate every intervention, and use any instrument that is deemed appropriate.
More subtle successes will be rates of project success, measured over much longer periods of time. Greater return on investment for projects, as well as quicker cost recovery and lower investment cost.  These will come after Agile process are in place and the corporation begins to take advantage of Agile’s many secondary benefits.  The measures will be typical business metrics already in place at our company.
Agile transformations do not happen overnight.  They are not without trials and tribulations.  In a systems-thinking view of our organization a change in the development process will ripple outward effecting other departments.  Scrum does not offer to fix our problems, it is no silver-bullet.  A core value of Scrum is transparency.  “Transparency ensures that aspects of the process that affect the outcome must be visible to those managing the outcomes” (Schwaber, 2009, p. 1).  We will not be able to solve problems of which we do not have knowledge.  We must trust others motivates when they raise issues and collaborate on solutions.  Our Agile coaches will have faced many of the issues our transformation will conjure up, some may be unique to our organization.  An Agile philosophy is that making decisions and then monitoring the outcome, even if a mistake, is much better than postponing the decision past the last responsible moment.
Many Agile adoptions start with pilot projects and with tentative steps toward half measures.  These attempts have been labeled “Scrumbut” processes.  Agile practices work as an orchestra producing a symphony, to remove one section of the orchestra will mute a portion of the symphony.  The expected results will not be achieved with half measures.
Cost for Certified Scrum Master training is $18,000 (plus expenses) for up to 20 participants on site.  Agile coaches salaries are approximately $130,000.  We may lose some employees who do not wish to transition to Agile work methods.  There are also indirect cost associated with every change. Infrastructure cost will be incurred to retrofit our software development work bay of cubicles into team rooms with modern pairing stations and a more flexible organic work space.  Details will be studied by the transformation team and evaluated when the time comes for those decision.
Change is the nature of our business.  If we do not change our business methods and adjust then change will be force upon us.  Adopting an Agile stance will allow us to change with the industry, to seize opportunities before challengers, and to outperform competitors.  It will provide for a people-centric development practice, that is at our companies core beliefs.  Many other companies have seen higher productivity, higher quality, greater job-satisfaction and overall cost reduced using Agile methods.
The first step towards this cultural transformation is for the Executive Management Team to approve this proposal, to join the Agile community, to communicate the new vision, and begin the transformation into an Agile organization.

Appendix A.  Agile Adoptions Rate Survey Results
Agile Adoption Rate Survey Results (February 2008) published in “Has Agile Peaked?” Dr. Dobb’s Journal (June 2008) by Scott Ambler: ( used with permission).

Appendix B.  Principles of Agile Manifesto

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.

  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

  10. Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.

  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

(Beck et al., 2001/2001)

Appendix C.  Definition of Terms
Agile software development - A family of methodologies based on iterative and incremental adaptive development with lightweight process controls featuring highly collaborative environments with disciplined technical practices focusing on delivering frequently and embracing changing requirements.
Burn-down chart - a information radiator depicting the progress made toward a goal.
CMMI - Carnegie Mellon, Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration - a measure of process maturity (5 being the highest level).
Lightweight process - generalization of Agile processes; relative to highly formal processes or heavyweight processes.
Methodology - “a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity” (Jewell, 2001).
Product Owner - a role on the Scrum team responsible for prioritizing the work to be done, to optimize the return on investment.
Scrum - a lightweight process framework, based in empirical process control theory, which uses an iterative and incremental approach to “optimize predictability and control risk” (Schwaber, 2009, p. 1).
Scrum Master - a role on the Scrum team responsible for optimize the process and productivity.
Scrum meeting - a short focused daily plaining meeting for the team, also called the standup meeting (because no one is allowed to sit).
Sprint - a time-boxed iterations of product development (typically one month or less).
Time-box - a fixed time duration in which a task is performed.
Velocity - the amount of work a Scrum team performs in one sprint (may be measured in unit-less value of story points).
Waterfall - a generic term applied to heavy-weight formal sequential phased development methods.

Ambler, S. W. (2008). Has agile peaked. Dr. Dobbs Journal: The World of Software Development, 3(6), 52-54.
Beck, Beedle, Bennekum, Cockburn, Cunningham, Fowler, et al. (2001). Manifesto for agile software development. Retrieved november [Web page]. (Original work published 2001)
Bridges, W. 1. (2004). Transitions : Making sense of life's changes . Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press.
Brooks Jr, F. P. (1995). The mythical man-month (anniversary ed.). Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc. Boston, MA, USA.
Cohen, S. G., & Bailey, D. E. (1997). What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of Management, 23(3), 239.
Cohn, & Rubin (2008). Comparative agility survey. [Web page]
Jackson, J. C. (2006). Organization development : The human and social dynamics of organizational change (illustrated ed.). Lanham, MD : University Press of America.
Jakobsen, C., & Sutherland, J. (2009). Scrum and cmmi--going from good to great: Are you ready-ready to be done-done?. Agile 2009.
Jewell (2001). The new oxford american dictionary (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press.
Johnson (1995). The CHAOS report (1994). Standish Group. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from
Kotter, J. (2007). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harv Bus Rev, 96-127.
Robbins, & Judge (2009). Organizational behavior . Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schwaber (2009). Scrum guide. [Pamphlet]
Sutherland (2009, August 25). Nokia test: Where did it come from? Scrum log (Jeff Sutherland's Blog) [Web page].
Sutherland, J. (2004). Agile development: Lessons learned from the first scrum. Cutter Agile Project Management Advisory Service, 5(20).

Proposal to Adopt Agile Development Methods
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple-Innovation is the Key

David Koontz, Sumalee Mahaguna, Daniel Stiles
Chapman University

    Organizations have many distinguishing factors that make them successful in their field.  However, one factor that is apparent in great organizations is vision.  Organizational vision is necessary for an organization to be successful because creative energy begins with vision.  Creative tension is the driving force which organizations use to make their vision a reality.  “Visionary companies are premier institutions…in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long rack record of making a significant impact on the world around them” (Collins & Porras, 2004, p. 2).  According to Peter Senge author of the Fifth Discipline, vision is distinct from purpose.  Purpose is abstract, leading towards a general heading whereas vision is a specific heading that is concrete (Senge, 2006).  Apple is a visionary organization that has a clear vision and purpose that can be seen through their innovative products over the years.  Apple’s original vision was, “to make computers for the rest of us,” while their purpose is, “to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind” (Collins & Porras, 1991, p. 39).  A purpose without a vision prevents forward mobility in an organization.  Conversely, a vision without a purpose is also futile; they go hand in hand. 
    Besides having a vision and a purpose, organizations need to take further steps to implement their corporate vision and ensure that this plan of action is known and practiced throughout the organization.  John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book Leading Change list eight important steps for change.  The eight steps for organization change parallels the steps needed to implement vision within and organization.  These steps include: establishing a sense of urgency, forming a powerful coalition, creating a vision, communicating the vision, empowering others to act on the vision, planning for and creating short term wins, consolidating improvements and still more change, and institutionalizing new approaches (Kotter, 2007).  Since the initial start of the organization, Apple has had both successes and failures in the implementation of their visions while striving to fulfill their purpose, creating tools for the mind to advance humankind.
Establishing a Sense of Urgency
    In Kotter’s model for transforming an organization, the top priority for establishing a powerful “sense of urgency”, Kotter notes that many companies start to change when someone or some group in the company sees the impending doom of a market position, or competitive opportunities.  This type of opportunity was seen by Steve Jobs when Apple was founded in 1976.  The cofounder of Apple Steve Wozniak said, “It never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, ‘let’s hold them up in the air and sell a few’” (Westley & Mintzburg, 1989, p. 25).  This insight resulted in the personal computer industry (Jackson, Mandeville, & Potts, 2002, p. 328).  The mainframe computer manufactures of the day did not see a need for a home computer.  Prior to Apple’s home built kit Apple I computer, the industry for personal computer did not exist (Jackson, Mandeville, & Potts, 2002, p. 326-327).
    During Apple’s thirty years of existence, Steve Jobs has established several changes because of competitive opportunities.  In the 1980s Macintosh development era, Jobs created a race to market.  The Lisa team had started work on their product years before the Macintosh team had started their project.  Steve Jobs made a bet that his team which featured the Macintosh would be the first to market.  Unfortunately, Jobs lost the bet; the Lisa did launch before the Macintosh.  However, Jobs was the true winner because the Macintosh won the longer race in the market place.
    In the decade (1987-1997) without Steve Jobs leadership, Apple continually lost market share and failed to execute a clear product vision under the direction of CEO Sculley (West, 2007, p. 7).  Apple culture was out of Sculley’s control.  Apple was able to regain their footing on the path to creating “insanely great” products (West & Mace, 2007, p. 6) upon the return of Steve Jobs in 1997.  Jobs reasserted his leadership in many areas and the first thing he did upon his return to Apple was announced a deal with Microsoft who invested $150 million in Apple stocks (Kawamoto, et al. 1997).  This move shocked the industry.
Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition
    Apple’s internal coalition of executives and leaders are much harder to ascertain; the company is known for its secrecy.  Certainly, tight groups of people have formed around the various shared visions of products.  Early on, Jobs “organized Apple office as a circle of work areas around a central foyer.  There stood a grand piano and a BMW.  ‘I believe people get ideas from seeing great products,’” Jobs claimed (Wise, 1984, p 146; Westley, 1989, p. 20).  Apple may have been one of the first companies to use evangelism marketing.  This ability of the company to enroll and develop a very strong relationship with customers is another form of coalition building where Apple has excelled.  Customers become voluntary representatives of the company, advocating for the products and services, an early form of viral marketing (Apple Evangelist, 2008). 
    Apples success in creating a coalition of business partners has been questioned by many and recognized as a short coming by Jobs.  In a joint interview with Bill Gates, Jobs said, “Because Woz and I started the company based on doing the whole banana, we weren’t so good at partnering with people” (Gates, et al., 2007, p. 25).  Jobs had recognized that Microsoft’s success was partly contributed to the coalition they were able to foster.  Microsoft is Apple’s longest running successful partnership.  The two companies worked together in the early days of Applesoft BASIC built into the Apple II which was credited with making the computer successful (Linzmayedr, 1999, p. 15).  Notably, they have been rivals in the eyes of many; however, the Macintosh platform was a large portion of Microsoft’s revenue (Linzmayer, 1999, p. 239).
    A holy grail for the telecommunication industry for the last 20 years has been “convergence of communication and computing” (West, 2007, p. 10).  Apple CEO John Sculley was a big proponent of convergence and championed the Newton MessagePad, creating the niche market for the personal digital assistant (PDA) (West, 2007).  Although Steve Jobs terminated the Newton product upon his return to Apple in 1997, Apple was learning to partner with other companies.  In the last decade, Apple has worked successfully with the music industry on iTunes store and digital rights management for songs.  They have also established partnerships with telecommunication companies worldwide to market the iPhone in over 90 countries (Apple, 2009).  Apple has learned to join and build communities for its products that foster organizational mission.
Creating a Vision
    Apple was created on a vision that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak had in 1976 in a garage.  Their vision was to create computers that the average consumer could use without possessing the technical knowledge or skills.  Computers at the time were only limited to a certain market niche and the average homemaker or sales clerk were not a part of this niche.  Apple founders saw that their technology could bring enrichment into the lives of people.  These computers would be affordable yet different enough to stand apart from all the other computers sold on the market.  The idea was to have an “Apple computer on every desk” (Ditlea, 1981, p. 1).  This idea became the foundation for which their vision was built upon.  Their vision was extremely radical compared to the other computer companies at the time.  As radical as their ideas may seemed, their vision attracted many other computer enthusiast into their business and completely set them apart. 
    Having a vision is extremely important to the success of an organization because without it, there is nothing pulling the organization forward.  “Vision is a specific destination, a picture of a desired future” (Senge, 2006, p. 138).  The organization was founded on a vision and this vision propelled the founders to continually innovate computers.  Initially, their vision was quite simple, to make computers that everyone can use.  Their vision has evolved over the years to communicate an even greater need to change the world through their innovation.  This desire lead to establishing purpose for their existence and that is “to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind” (Collins & Porras, 1991, p. 39).  Apple felt that they had more to contribute to society than just computers.  They have expanded their technology into the music industry and the phone industry.  In a special review by Business Week, Steve Jobs made a statement saying, “We have just begun” (Business Week, 2000, p.1) as a prelude to his plans for the future.
Communicating the Vision
    Apple started life as a business, not as a company.  The gradual change from a bloated garage operation into something resembling a corporation was arduous and protracted (Moritz, 1984).  What was even more arduous than the transformation was the communication of the founder’s vision to the rest of the organization.  Originally, the idea of creating computers that a normal person would be able to use was the driving force behind the organization.  Apple employees had strong feelings about this because it set Apple apart from the other computer companies.  They were even successful in recruiting employees from various companies such as Intel, National Semiconductor, and Hewlett Packard (Moritz, 1984).  These employees readily resigned from their current position at these various organizations for Apple because they saw that Apple had something different to offer. 
    Initially, communicating the vision to other Apple employees was not hard because the organization was founded on a vision.  However, as more people flocked to Apple, the harder it became to communicate this vision.  The glue that once held the organization together began to fall apart as the company grew at an exponential rate and the vision was lost amongst the new faces that continually showed up on a daily basis.  Hiring from other organizations also brought discontinuity into the organization because employees from IBM or Hewlett Packard would bring culture from these various organizations that were not compatible with Apple.  Eventually, Apple’s success became their enemy and Apple found themselves operating similarly to organizations such as IBM.  This was something they tried extremely hard to avoid but with so many people working in the organization, bureaucracy was the only way to manage everyone.  “By 1980 the company was too large and too scattered for any one manager to cover on a daily stroll to take the air and test the waters.  So for most of the employees, the corporate hand was invisible” (Moritz, 1984, p. 257).  Apple tried limiting some of these discontinuity within the organization by establishing a committee whose main purpose was to “reduce the abstract into the concrete and codify all the conflicting impulses and intentions, the clashes between individual enterprise and teamwork, between autocracy and democracy, that make up a company” (Moritz, 1984, p. 257).  The committee set out to turn the company around which included the culture and the working environment.  The idea was to get the organization into an alignment in order to start working cohesively again.  One of the methods used to reach alignment was to reestablish their cultural values throughout the organization.
    There was no doubt that Apple employees were employed because of their passion for computers so Apple founders found that the best way to communicate this value was thought their products.  Apple started a new policy for their office procedures.  No more typewriters were to be purchased or leased and the existing ones were banished.  Apple believed that before they could communicate their vision to the public, they should fully believe in their products first by utilizing it in the workplace.  Shortly after Apple did away with typewriters, the term secretary was also abolished to reflect the varied responsibilities that could be accomplished by the personal computer.  The term area associate took the place of secretary.  Apple also started a program that gave Apple employees their own personal computer once they had demonstrated minimal efficiency.  They also offered classes for family members and large discounts to friends and family members.  Apple founders wanted the work place to be more than just a place to come to, do what you had to do, then go home.  He wanted the work place to be a place where people could innovate and have the freedom to do more rewarding and enriching tasks. 
Empowering Others to Act on the Vision
    The Macintosh group was formed to examine the feasibility of developing an extremely low cost computer for the public.  Steve Jobs took over the program and “was determined to build a computer that was in his words, ‘insanely great’” (Nonaka & Kenney, 1991, p. 75).  Early on, the Macintosh team did not have an exact idea of what the computer would be like and were not given a development schedule.  An engineer in the project said that, “Steve allowed us to crystallize the problem and solution simultaneously” (Nonaka & Kenney, 1991, p. 75).  Jobs and his predecessor as group leader “set out only basic principles; it was the personnel of the team who would concretize these.  “The Mac team was self organizing” (Nonaka & Kenney, 1991, p. 76), they were empowered to innovate.
    Another example of empowerment of their employees is the loan to own program.  Apple offered employees voluntary classes on their computer applications.  When an employee demonstrates proficiency in at least two applications, they can then participate in a loan to own program.  An Apple personal computer is given to the employee to use at home after one year, it is given to them free of charge.  The employee is thus better skilled at work, and it helps to promote the vision of computer for everybody.
Planning for and Creating Short Term Wins
    One of Apple’s significant achievements has been “the implementation of the office workplace of tomorrow” (Ditlea, 1981, p. 3).  Apple “inaugurated the workplace of the future by putting computers on most of its employee’s desks” (Ditlea, 1981, p. 1).  Mike Scott, Apple president at the time said, “Apple is an innovative company.  We must believe and lead in all areas.  If word processing is so neat then let’s all use it.  We believe the typewriter is obsolete.  Let’s prove it inside before we try and convince our customers” (Ditlea, 1981, p. 1).  This internal move increased employees effectiveness, improved job satisfaction, and led to very little turnover.  It freed managers from doing mundane and time consuming paperwork tasks.  This newly available time allowed them to coach employees leading to a much improve workplace atmosphere.
In this case, Apple was able to lay the foundation for the realization of a long term goal and vision of having the general public use their computers.  They were able to start it on a small scale with a short term goal for their own employees.  As a result, some of the lowest level employees were able to begin contributing on a higher level.  Steve Jobs stated, “Not only do our area associates (secretaries) have the freedom to do more rewarding, enriching tasks, they have a chance to get involved in solving problems that ultimately affect the success of the entire company” (Ditlea, 1981, p. 2).  Apple created a long term external winning situation for itself with consumers by creating a short term internal winning situation with their employees.
Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Change
    The computer industry has inherently understood and acted upon this aspect of Kotter’s model.  Much of the industries success and blinding pace of improvements are attributable to the ability of a company to make refinements to their products, building faster, and more powerful computers.  In building these superior computers, the company may change the nature of its core business.  Many companies of the past have failed to manage the transition from the mainframe era to the personal computer era (e.g. Burroughs, Control Data, Data General, Digital Equipment, Sperry-Univac, Wang) (Jackson, et al., 2002, p. 330).  The companies that have excelled at keeping pace with these changes are some of the fastest growing companies in history (e.g. Apple, Dell, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle) (Jackson, 2002, p 330).  Many of the companies that have failed did not understand the shifting dynamics of the industry and clung to outdated paradigms.  “Paradigms are a source of both strength and weakness- strength in that they tend to reinforce successful patterns of behavior, and weakness for the same reason” (Jackson, et al., 2002, p. 331).
    Apple’s ability to change paradigms as an industry leader is obvious in the history of the short lived personal computer industry.  Apple created the personal computer industry; then they innovated the graphical user interface (GUI).  Adopted by the industry the GUI, innovated the desktop and file folder metaphor that has predominated the industry.  Apple is now innovating appliance model in computing products that integrate vertically from device to network to content.  The iPod and iPhone product lines are examples of Apple’s ability to envision a paradigm change, put that vision into action and achieve game changing results.  Kotter’s seventh step is evidenced by “using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision” (Kotter, 2007, p. 7).  Apple has used its very successful music industry changing iPod product line with iTunes music store credibility to also change the smart phone application market, achieving 1.5 billion downloads in the first year of App Store operation (Elmer-DeWitt, 2009).  Apple has used the “core competencies that the company has acquired over its thirty year history, notably in product marketing and innovation” to redefine market segments (West, 2007, p. 24).  On the success of the iPod and iTunes music store, Apple launched its iPhone, creating the most successful convergence device.  The iPhone has proven that Apple can both consolidate their core competencies while continuing to innovate. 
Institutionalizing New Approaches
    In Kotter’s eight step model, Apple’s ability to articulate the connections between the behaviors that have lead to corporate success are apparent in one word, innovation (Kotter, 2007).  Kotter is concerned that the corporate vision be institutionalized as opposed to being carried by a leader.  Apple’s vision is to create products that enhance people’s lives and make the use of computers in all their forms easy, intuitive, with a seamless coherent experience.  The recent success of the iPod in the music player market space is an example of the execution of this vision.  Apple recognized that the music player market was a disjointed experience for the consumer.  They built a music player device that used Apple’s core competencies in computer, networking, product design and user experience.  They partnered with the music industry creating coalitions that learned a new method for product delivery, drastically changing the music industry.  This is an example of one product line that fulfills the vision of Apple’s purpose may appear to be a fluke.  However, each of these Apple products were innovations that changed the industry: Apple I computer, Apple II computer, Macintosh, iMac, iPod, and most recently, the iPhone.  Apple has proven that it is capable of changing the institutions that it deals with externally while adapting to the required business processes and organizational change that paradigm shifts require.
    Over the past thirty years, Apple has met with many successes and failures.  They have proven time after time that they are able to overcome challenges and rise above any disparities that may come their way.  Apple was built on a vision, yet vision alone is not enough for organizational growth or success.  An organization needs to be able to communicate their vision throughout the company and they need to empower their employees to act on this vision in order to make it a reality.  In order for organizations to achieve their vision, they have to be receptive to change and provide an environment that promotes change; only then can an organization grow.  John Kotter’s eight step model for change outlines the way Apple implements their vision throughout the organization. 
    When Apple saw the opportunity in the market place for personal computers, they established a sense of urgency.  Initially, Apple did not have strong coalition in the organization but soon learned that in order to survive, they needed to form a coalition and of the biggest step they took was by partnering with Microsoft.  Creating a vision is the third step in the model but Apple already had a vision.  Communicating this vision was a harder task for the organization because it was growing so fast, but in the end, they were able to do this by redefining values.  Apple empowered their employees by allowing them to partake in decisions that could ultimately affect the success of the company.  Apple also empowered their employees to innovate and do more fulfilling tasks by providing them with their own computers.  This was also a big step towards creating short term wins.  Before Apple could sell computers that were supposed to improve lifestyles, they had to believe it themselves so they provided their employees with free computers and classes.  Apple is continually consolidating improvements and implementing more change because the market is always changing.  An organization that wants to survive needs to be able to keep up with these changes and they need to keep making improvements.  Institutionalizing new approaches is the last step in Kotter’s model and Apple is continually experimenting with new approaches.  They have mastered the personal computer industry only to move into the music industry and then to communications.  Apple’s ability to implement their vision, innovate, and adapt to change makes them a true visionary organization.    

Apple. (2009). IPhone around the world.  Retrieved July 15, 2009 from
Apple Evangelist. (2008, December 16). In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  Retrieved July    11, 2009, from
Business Week. (2000, September 25). Apple’s steve jobs: Our vision is we have just begun.    Retrieved July 22, 2009, from
Collins, J., & Porras, J.I. (1991). Organizational vision and visionary organizations. California    Management Review. 30-52. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from Business Source Premier    database.
Collins, J., & Porras, J.I. (2004). Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies. New    York: HarperCollins.
Ditlea, S. (1981). An apple on every desk. Inc. Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from
Elmer-DeWitt, P. (2009). Apple 2.0 How Apple’s App Store got to 1.5 billion    downloads. Retrieved July 14, 2009, from    downloads/
Jackson, M., Mandeville, T., & Potts, J. (2002). The evolution of the digital computation    industry. Prometheus, 20(4), 323-336.
Kawamoto, D., Hesket, B., & Ricciuti, M. (1997). Microsoft to invest $150 million in Apple.    CNET New, August 6, 1997. Retrieved July 11, 2009, from    1001-202143.html
Kotter, J. (2007). Leading Change. Harvard Business Review, 85(1), 96-103. Retrieved July 11,    2009 from Business Source Premier database.
Linzmayer, O.W. (1999). Apple confidential: The real story of apple computer, inc. No Starch    Press. Retrieved July 9, 2009 from    tten_Founder.pdf
Moritz, M. (1984). The little kingdom: The private story of apple computer. New York: William    Morrow and Company.
Nonaka, I., & Kenney, M. (1991). Towards a new theory of innovation management: A case    study comparing canon, inc. and apple computer, inc. Journal of Engineering and    Technology Management, 8, 67-83.
Senge, P.M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of learning organization. New    York: Doubleday.
Swisher, K. & Mossberg, W. (2007). Transcription of Interview: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. D5    Conference.  All Things Digital. New York: Ubiqus Reporting Inc.
West, J., Mace, M. (2007). Entering a mature industry though innovations: Apple’s iphone    strategy. DRUID Summer Conference. Copenhagen.
Westley, F., & Mintzberg, H. (1989). Visionary leadership and strategic management. Strategic    Management Journal, 10, 17-32.


See Also:

Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer and Why He Still Has His Job at Apple by Steve Blank June, 2017.
"What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand. Rarely does it regain its former glory."

Shock Therapy: Good for the Team

This is a paper I wrote for a master's in Organizational Leadership.

Ref:  See Sutherland's original paper on Shock Therapy - A bootstrap for hyper productive teams (PDF)

Shock Therapy: Good for the Team
David Koontz
Chapman University College

Building new teams is very difficult, getting a team to come together and gel is an art that has been studied in group dynamic and other team building efforts.  Bruce Tuckman’s model of group development (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) is the basis of team building. Scrum is an Agile software development framework based upon empirical process control theory.  Using an inspection and adaptation feedback loop Scrum allows a team to self-manage while constantly improving its process and methods of work.  Many teams require months to reach the performing stage.  A method to reduce this startup cost is a controversial technique named Shock Therapy.  With skilled and competent leadership Shock Therapy will produce the desired results: a productive team with Agile knowledge and experience delivering the desired product.  A great value to the company and the team.
Self-Organizing Groups
Starting a team is always challenging. A group of individuals will take considerable time to form a tight cohesive team. In the forming stage of team development there are many aspects to distract the team from a quick transition to the performing stage.  Businesses desire high return on investment for projects, and are always searching for cost cutting measures.  Reducing startup cost of team development will have cost reduction benefits for the business.  For businesses that have many projects starting up, like software development companies, a cost reduction can have a significant affect on profitability and sustainability. 
Scrum is a software development framework that is focused on a team of cross-functional developers that are allowed to self-organize within the team to design solutions. Sutherland refers to Scrum as an ecosystem, “based on complex adaptive systems theory” (Sutherland, Downey & Granvik, 2009, p. 1).  Within this ecosystem it is natural for the team to find the path of least resistance, to compromise on aspects of practice, and to misunderstand the reasons underlying practices and their synergic nature of support.
Many influences act upon the formation of the team, one of the major influences is the Scrum Master.  The Scrum Master is a team leader and is responsible for the team’s process. “Theorists have argued that leadership is necessary for self-managing groups to perform at high levels (Klein, 1984; Letize & Donovan, 1990; Manz & Sims, 1987)” (Sy, Côté & Saavedra, 2005, p. 1). Although Scrum can be taught in a few hours, Sutherland et. al have found that novice leadership allows teams to “[focus] on aspects of the framework rather than on delivering value to the customer” (Sutherland et al., 2009, p. 2). At MySpace, Scott Downey has used a bootstrapping technique referred to as Shock Therapy to reduce team startup times by as much as 50% (Sutherland et al., 2009, p. 1).  Downey requires the complete team, including Product Owner, Delivery Team and Scrum Master to participate in an Introduction to Scrum training course.  Teams are then required to practice Scrum within a tightly constrained set of rules.  Rules designed to stabilize the environment. These rules define an initial team profile regarding: sprint length, definition of done, acceptance of sprint backlog items, effort estimation, progress tracking, duration of meetings, and respect for the team’s time and process (Sutherland et al., 2009). Self-organization is seen as a privilege that must be earned by the team.  The measure of achievement to earn that privilege is not completion of the training course and the formation of the team, but a traditional value of Agile, delivering customer value.  The teams are only allowed self-organization after they “complete three consecutive, successful Sprints, demonstrate a 240% increase in Velocity, and have a solid business reason to make a change that was agreed to by all team members” (Sutherland et al., 2009, p. 3).
MySpace and other companies have used this Shock Therapy technique to launch new Scrum teams. The teams spend less time in the forming, storming, and norming stages of team development.  Initial constraints on the team’s self-organization appear to have a benefit regarding formation.  These teams reach two and three times the productivity in a matter of weeks (Sutherland et al., 2009, p. 1). Creating a group experience and achieving productivity is the desired goal of the bootstrapping technique.
One aspect of Downey’s experience with these teams is that he does not have the time to coach them through project completion.  He has therefore maintained a strict rule to foster self-sufficiency within the team.  As a coach that will turn over the reins to someone else, he does not take on any fundamental tasks, he cedes power and leadership as the team assumes those roles.  When the team demonstrates that it has knowledge of the process, is delivering customer value each sprint, and is highly productive, it then deserves the privilege to self-organize.
Interactionist View of Conflict
The Shock Therapy technique is consistent with the interactionist view of conflict in group dynamics.  Constraints imposed upon the group bind the group to a well defined process.  Constraints upon the team’s stated value of self-organization act to reduce the process conflict that the team will naturally have in their formation stage. The interactionist view proposes that there are functional and dysfunctional types of conflict.  Task conflict at moderate to low levels are considered a “positive effect on group performance because it stimulates discussion of ideas that helps groups perform better” (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p. 486). While process conflict should be kept low, and “relationship conflicts are almost always dysfunctional” (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p. 486).  The Shock Therapy introduction of the Scrum model allow the team to assimilate the new process behaviors over a period of time while reducing the stress induced by the drastic changes of the Scrum framework to the developers traditional processes.  Removing the process changes from the debate, the team focuses upon the remaining two types of conflict, relationship and task conflict. This reduction in conflict types also allows the Scrum Master to focus on these areas.  The result is quicker stabilization of the Scrum ecosystem in the high energy productive state.
By reducing one of the three types of conflicts the Scrum Master has decreased the storming stage over process issues and quickened the transition to a highly performing team.  The remaining two types of conflict, personal and task conflict will be that much easier to manage.  When these types of conflict are well within bounds and the team has proven its ability to produce customer value, removing the constraints on process conflict will be easily managed also.
“Aggregates of Strangers” (Hall & Williams, 1966, p. 214)
In an early study of group dynamics Hall and Williams (1966) studied the decision-making abilities of groups.  There basic research question being asked was; did an ad hoc group that was typically studied generalize to the population of a well-established group? In this landmark study the researches found strong evidence that “established groups were significantly superior to ad hoc groups in decision performance relative to several criteria” (Hall & Williams, 1966, p. 214). The criteria of interest here is the difference found in the study for resolution of conflict.  The established groups treated conflict objectively as a task type conflict and worked toward creative solutions and “adopt[ed] procedures designed to bring about constructive resolution of differences” (Hall & Williams, 1966, p. 221). The tendency of the ad hoc groups was to view conflict “among strangers as having potential affective consequences which preempt the importance of the task (Hall & Williams, 1966, p. 221). “[A]d hoc groups were likely to resolve differences through compromise procedures whereas established groups responded with increased creativity” (Hall & Williams, 1966, p. 214).
In the software development industry, the dynamic nature of the work allows companies to form many project teams.  The industry has a transient nature, developers are hired as contractors for projects because of specialized skills required.  Project teams are constantly formed, reformed and disbanded.  A technique for quickly transitioning a newly formed group (an aggregate of strangers) into a well established team has tremendous value in the industry.
Functional Conflict is Situational
It has long been held in management theories that some level of functional conflict is beneficial.  Conflict is assumed to reduce the disfunction of group-think.  Many organizations practice formal or informal devil’s advocacy. “When in conflict, people confront issues, learn to take different perspectives, and need to be creative” (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003, p. 741). In a meta-analysis De Dreu and Weingart (2003) contradict this long held view of task type conflict as beneficial. They studied both task conflict and relationship conflict as related to team performance.  Relationship conflict and task conflict were found in the meta-analysis to “both have a moderate and negative correlation with team performance” (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003, p. 748).
Given the mixed results on task conflict and its correlation to positive performance it would be wise to keep a close watch on the levels of task conflict.  Scrum allows the watchful Scrum Master the tools to empirically measure performance and task conflict.  Scrum’s sprint  retrospective is a great opportunity to gauge the task conflict of stories completed during the sprint.  This can then be correlated with the team’s velocity.  Allowing the Scrum Master the opportunity give feedback to the team about their task conflict’s impact upon velocity, and instruction upon self-regulation of this aspect.
Forming a Scrum team is a team building exercise. Team building is largely a socialization function.  During the formation stages of a team the members will undergo an adaptation process.  The Marines call this process boot camp, where the new recruit’s level of commitment is challenged and the drill instructor molds the recruit.  This indoctrination process is use by many organization to introduce the companies values and culture. Schein (2004) defines culture as: “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems” (p. 17).
Contrary to Wall Streets common warning about stock performance, past performance is no indication of future performance; for people past performance appears to a great predictor of adoption of company culture, and future performance. Robbins and Judge (2009) describe a three-stage socialization process as: “prearrival”, “encounter”, and “metamorphosis” stages (p. 561-562). The prearrival stage recognizes that people arrive with expectations, attitudes and behaviors based in their past performances.  This is why the selection process is so very important to company culture.  The encounter stage is when the team member confronts the reality of the current situation and compares it against the expectations. Decision to conform, or to challenge the status quo, or perhaps opt-out by leaving the company are then made.  Significant resources will be committed and expenses expended by the team to socialize the newcomer. This cost is often seen in teams adding individuals to increase capacity.  In the worst case the addition of individuals overwhelms the team’s ability to absorb and socialize new members, which has been well described as the death march in The Mythical Man-Month (Brooks Jr, 1995).  The metamorphosis stage describes the new team member’s process of resolving the major discrepancies in perspectives. The team and leadership can facilitate this process by providing formal and informal roles such as mentors and friendships. With the nature of dynamic teams in many businesses today, one could easily argue that the socialization process never ends. Van Maanen and Schein (1977) stated, “if one takes seriously the-notion that learning itself is a continuous and life-long process, the entire organizational career of an individual can be characterized as a socialization process (Schein, 1971a; Van Maanen, 1977a)” (p. 3).
Good Stories Lead to Culture
Employees learn the company culture through the stories, rituals and language (Robbins & Judge, 2009). “It is with language, metaphors, and stories designed through the language-in-use, that people, organizations, and countries become who they are. The conscious use of language as a component of development serves a vital function in setting the stage for change processes to be more effective and long lasting” (Ricketts & Seiling, 2003, p. 41).  A common story is the Chicken and Pig story which has pervaded the Scrum community.  Told to differentiate between roles in the development process and their commitment levels.
A chicken and a pig are together when the chicken says, "Let's start a restaurant!" The pig thinks it over and says, "What would we call this restaurant?" The chicken says, "Ham n' Eggs!" The pig says, "No thanks, I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved!” (Schwaber, 2009, p. 4).
Scrum teams use the notion of chickens and pigs to distinguish roles and use the labels to denote the rules of the Scrum meeting.  Pigs are the Scrum team members, fully committed to delivering an increment of product during the iteration; whereas chickens are others who are interested in the project but are not actively engaged in production, such as management. Chickens are not allowed to speak in the Scrum meeting because they lack ‘skin in the game’.
Another common story involves the teams velocity. Velocity for a Scrum team is defined as the amount of work effort the team can perform to a set standard of completeness in a given time interval (sprint). Velocity is used in all levels of planning and in predicting project success.  It can be accurately measured, but one part of velocity is effort estimates and therefore constitute imprecision in the aggregate measure. This is highly debated because it is a fundamental measure of team performance.
The scenario concerns how one would predict the weather with very little knowledge of meteorology.  The typical response is that one would use yesterday’s weather as the best predictor of tomorrow’s weather.  This meme becomes shorthand for an idea that there is value in consistency of performance and  predicting future performance is best done based upon past performance.  This adage is used by Scrum teams to suggest that the best predictor of next sprint’s velocity will be last sprint’s velocity.

The veteran Scrum Master will encourage the Agile culture that allows stories and rituals to pervade.  “Stories in the workplace often underlie the implicit assumptions within the workplace community” (Ricketts & Seiling, 2003, p. 39). This jargon once assimilated by a new team member unites them in the organizational culture.  Much of the stories and jargon will be learned on the job and does not need to be taught upfront to create the processes.  However, this language helps to maintain the processes and the culture surrounding the team.

What About Trust?

For the newly forming team this culture will develop as the team is forming. The Scrum Master’s role is to optimize the process and enforce the rules, but also to foster a positive culture.   “Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control” (Schwaber, 2009, pp. 1-2).  Scrum is an empirical process control framework and is therefore built upon these pillars; transparent processes, frequency of inspection, and ability to adapt (Schwaber, 2009).  A culture must embrace these pillars and be willing to make changes.  There are risk inherent in the dissonance associated with restricting the newly forming team’s right to self-organize with respect to the Scrum process. Trust that the team is capable of self-management must also be given to the team. One person to point this out is Tobias Mayer.  In his response to the Shock Therapy article he wrote: “I fear the concept of hyper-productivity, represented by Shock Therapy, will run rough-shod over the essential human values of enjoyment and passion, and the empowering feeling of self-organization, fueled by trust” (Mayer, 2008, p. 1).  Shock Therapy is not seen by all in the community as a positive method of building a team.

Zhou and George (2003) would argue that the effectiveness of Shock Therapy would depend greatly upon the leader’s emotional intelligence.  There study of leader emotional intelligence recognizes the inevitable tensions, conflicts and debates in an organization attempting complex endeavors.  Their findings reveal that employee creativity may be awakened via five routes described as: “identification, information gathering, idea generation, idea evaluation and modification, and idea implementation” (Zhou & George, 2003, p. 545).   Based upon earlier work and the theory that some task type conflict may be beneficial to group behavior and performance.  Their findings are that “leaders high on emotional intelligence will be able to sense this frustration and importantly to create favorable conditions to channel it into creative problem solving” (Zhou & George, 2003, p. 564).  A Scrum Master with high emotional intelligence will serve the team well by facilitating creativity and positive moods.


Scrum is a framework for optimizing productivity of a software development team and reducing project risks.  Team development requires time and energy, which cost businesses money.  A technique of reducing startup cost for new Scrum teams is Shock Therapy.  This technique restricts the Scrum team’s self-organization principle by imposing well defined rules for the Scrum process.  Shock Therapy is a means to an end.  Its use may stress the Agile values of trust in individuals and self organization.  A competent leader (Scrum Master) with high emotional intelligence, skilled in team building, and well grounded in Agile philosophy will mitigate these risks.  As the team progresses through the Tuckman stages of group development into the performing stage the Scrum Master will relinquish authority and the team will regain the abridged self-organization ability.  The ability of leaders to guide teams to the performing stage quickly is one measure of leadership.  A highly performing team creates self-worth for the team members and is a core value of software development companies.

Definition of Terms
Agile software development - A family of methodologies based on iterative and incremental adaptive development with lightweight process controls featuring highly collaborative environments with disciplined technical practices focusing on delivering frequently and embracing changing requirements.
Lightweight process - generalization of Agile processes; relative to highly formal processes or heavyweight processes.
Methodology - “a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity” (Jewell, 2001).
Scrum - a lightweight process framework, based in empirical process control theory, which uses an iterative and incremental approach to “optimize predictability and control risk” (Schwaber, 2009, p. 1).
Scrum meeting - a short focused daily plaining meeting for the team, also called the standup meeting (because no one is allowed to sit).
Sprint - a time-boxed iterations of product development (typically one month or less).
Time-box - a fixed time duration in which a task is performed.
Velocity - the amount of work a Scrum team performs in one sprint (may be measured in unit-less value of story points).
Waterfall - a generic term applied to heavy-weight formal sequential phased development methods.
Yesterday’s weather - a meme in Agile terms relating to predicting future performance based upon past performance.

Brooks Jr, F. P. (1995). The mythical man-month (anniversary ed.). Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc. Boston, MA, USA.
De Dreu, C. K. W., & Weingart, L. R. (2003). Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 741-749.
Hall, J., & Williams, M. S. (1966). A comparison of decision-making performances in established and ad hoc groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3(2), 214-222.
Jewell (2001). The new oxford american dictionary (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press.
Mayer (2008, September 15). Shock therapy... Or compassion? Agilethinking.Net blog [Web page]. Retrieved October 1, 2009, from
Ricketts, M., & Seiling, J. G. (2003). Language, metaphors and stories: Catalysts for meaning making in organizations. Organization Development Journal, 21(4), 33-43.
Robbins, & Judge (2009). Organizational behavior . Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership. Jossey-Bass.
Schwaber (2009). Scrum guide. [Pamphlet]
Sutherland, Downey, & Granvik (2009). Shock therapy: A bootstrap for hyper-productive scrum. 2009 Agile Conference.
Sy, T., Côté, S., & Saavedra, R. (2005). The contagious leader: Impact of the leader's mood on the mood of group members, group affective tone, and group processes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(2), 295-305.
Van Maanen, J. E., & Schein, E. H. (1977). Toward a theory of organizational socialization.
Zhou, J., & George, J. M. (2003). Awakening employee creativity: The role of leader emotional intelligence. The Leadership Quarterly, 14(4-5), 545-568.