Preface

Welcome to the start of your new journey into Scrum, and perhaps even into yourself. The patterns you’ll find here are tools that can help you not only to discover Scrum, but help you gain deeper insight into how and why it works. Much of that discovery will take you deep inside the practices and beliefs of your organization. It may challenge much of your current worldview, while at the same time making you feel at home.

Some of Scrum’s origins lie in Japanese culture and Buddhism. Driving even more deeply, those who view Scrum as a way of work-life rather than just as a method are more likely to find fulfillment in their Scrum journey. Zen Buddhists used the story of the Ten Bulls as a metaphor for the Zen journey into one’s self. The bull has long been a symbol of reflection that predates its appearance in Chinese Buddhism in the eleventh century. The story metaphorically connects the pragmatic with the idealistic through pictures originally drawn by the twelfth-century Zen master Kaku-an Shu-en, where a simple person grows from a reductionist world of bulls, whips and effort to melt into nature and the world, ultimately to emerge like Putai — the laughing Buddha.

The Search for the Bull

I am able to develop product. It’s a job. It’s often tiring. I’ve heard of this thing called Scrum, but am not really sure whether people are actually using it or whether it works. I am exhausted from looking for it. It feels intuitive, but it’s so different from anything we’ve done before that I’m not sure it’s right.

Discovering the Footprints

I saw a Scrum book in the bookstore. I had heard stories of great men and women called ScrumMasters and Product Owners, and of a world of prosperity, of software in thirty days and two times the output in half of the time. Yet before they were only dreams and stories. Now it is as obvious as the nose on my face: There is something here that intrigues me, and it is real.

Perceiving the Bull

I have joined a Scrum Team, with great hopes and aspirations — Scrum must be here. I am in wonder of the many orders of magnitude claims and of Toyota-like quality. Others describe it differently, but it seems as though we are talking about the same thing. It fills my imagination and lifts my expectations.

Catching the Bull

I try Scrum with my team. It is a struggle between me and Scrum, and I am determined that I shall become master over this thing called Scrum. The effort is high to align it with my direction: it is like a wild animal. The harder I try to bend it to my will, the more problems that surface. This is not what I wanted, and it is not the Scrum I learned about at the agile conferences.

Taming the Bull

I am still trying to use Scrum, but with more success. I am in harmony with The Scrum Guide. Scrum seems to do something useful. It wraps my old practices but makes obvious where I have strayed from a good path. Setbacks become more of a game than a struggle. There is no conflict with the way I used to do things. I grow happy. Or is it complacency?

Riding the Bull Home

Scrum now works for us! We are running Sprints, and life joins Sprints’ cycles. Others follow along to join the Sprint rhythm, and a great team emerges. Is this Scrum? Whose Scrum? Jeff Sutherland’s? Ken Schwaber’s? Mine?

The Bull Transcended

All the parts work in harmony: Product Owner and team, Scrum Team and customers: they all work together. Scrum mastered me. It is natural and it is obvious how to work. Its intuitiveness obviates the rule book called The Scrum Guide. There is no Scrum. What is there? Do I care?

Both Bull and Self Transcended

There is now an even broader Wholeness where there are no “parts working together.” There is no boundary between parts, between self and how the self and others do work. We are a Whole. There is no Team and Customer, no Us and Them. I am not sure this is Scrum any more.

Reaching the Source

It’s obvious. I get it. Crap. It was part of me all along. I knew it — but did not know that I knew it. Why did I spend all that money on training and certification?

In the World

Now I can help my organization, and organizations everywhere, increase in the wisdom of development. I am happy — so happy that people call me crazy, every day listening to others and sharing the stories of my patterns with them.

Scrum is not an endpoint, but rather a journey in which team members join each other as they embark into new ways of organizing work. The principles that underly this way of organizing work come from thinking beyond one’s self. We must consider how the team works as a Whole and how the team and organization form an even greater Whole. Even beyond that we should ponder our connection to the market and the whole of our broader day-to-day work life.

However, it starts — and continues — as a journey into one’s self. In Scrum we take it that we must put aside our ego and our drive to control an outcome, and should instead harmonize with our market, colleagues, and work. All of this book’s practical advice harks back to these reflective foundations. So we start here with a playful adaptation of the story of the Ten Bulls as a metaphor for your Scrum journey. It is a journey intended to lead you to master Scrum knowledge and to broaden its contribution to your team and your own daily life — and then, beyond, to your world. Reaching that point will free you to grow into your next stage of mastery in the world of work and beyond.

You may be surprised to find such a story on the first pages of a Scrum book. Maybe you even find it a bit off-putting. That’s O.K.: the rest of the book is much more soundly pragmatic. In our work we find most Scrum practice to align with the first few steps of the journey described here in the Preface. However, the current Self of some of you, and the future Self of others, may find that something here touches something deep within you or your team: a taste of the deeper Spirit of the Game.