The Mist


... waterfall is the industry's primary project management approach, and hundreds of thousands of developers are suffering abuses caused by bad management practices.

✥      ✥      ✥

Enterprises rely on dependable delivery of product. Individuals alone were limited in what they could produce in early human society, based on individual visions and limited gestalt interactions. Visionaries who needed manpower rarely had the necessary armies at their disposal, and local agrarian economies tended to favour individual endeavour enough that great visions were rare.

Society has always been limited in the scope of its endeavors. Large scope brings large risk, and lacking proof of value, it is hard to muster voluntary effort to a great cause. If one has the means — such as one's own army or other source of force or coercion — one can muster a mass of humanity to carry out some endeavour under the orders of a perhaps visionary leader. But most advances in human society had to wait for the formation of large cities and the forces of commercial interaction between the disciplines of stonecutting and agriculture, tailoring and woodcutting. Prosperity has almost always been the father of invention.

This created a humanity of haves and have-nots. Early human society was much more inequitable than in our modern world. The poor found solace in simple pastimes but were not lacking for creativity. Those with nothing were doomed to stay with nothing for much of their lives.

As the industrial age dawned, the beliefs and practices of product methodology emerged and became more refined. Blunt command-and-control became finessed as management, but while a wise pyramid-builder or general might understand the risks of schedule or even success, management tended to believe that success could be formalised. These beliefs became law, and managers became the new tyrants. A hope that these practices might actually work has kept these management beliefs alive in spite of countless failures — failures that are often covered up, denied or, more often, rationalized.

Enter a more rationale approach: Scrum. Rather than taking root in the mandates of some method, it is based on agile principles: inspecting and adapting, one step at a time. It is not, however, an undisciplined approach, but one suitable to dedicated professionals. The team is treated with respect, as peers with product management differentiated only by task and focus — not by power. The focus is on ever improving the processes of development.

Therefore,

Society — particularly in the cities — learned the power of gestalt theory. These people formed groups that, perhaps tacitly, recognized the value of trust or at least of a functioning economy. Different parts of society focused on different levels of aspiration, from basic daily needs to the high arts. As these ideas matured, and products became complex, groups came to understand the nature of complexity and the inability to reliably predict everyday business outcomes. Agile would arise as a new economic order for complex product endeavors. 

✥      ✥      ✥

This book in your hands is a vision, richly supported by experience, of how such teams congeal out of the Mist, one step at a time, to build product. It starts with a Product Owner who has a Vision and who expresses that Vision as a publicly visible Product Backlog. A Development Team is driven by this backlog at a pace which they set, according to their ability. Business leadership and development together  take the effort forward. The Development Team meets with the Product Owner in a meeting to discuss the business plan and the derived work plan. The Development Team limits their first attempt to a two-week increment, carried out according to their own work plan, to produce a concrete result which is reviewed by the Product Owner to evaluate its alignment with the Vision.

The enterprise re-plans tactics daily and does process improvement after each cycle of delivery. The cycle continues as both the process and product improve over time. The ScrumMaster makes impediments visible and challenges the team to ongoing improvement.