I'm finding myself really drawn to his description of what's needed to start a Scrum project:
- A vision
- A product backlog
- A vision
- why are we doing this? (what problem are we solving?)
- what will we have when we're done?
- goals for the first sprint
- anticipated goals for the second sprint
- a rough idea of what sprints are currently expected to produce what items from the product backlog
"Be careful what you ask for -- you might get it." It's true; ask with care. Listen with care. Define your terms -- be sure what you say means the same thing to the person you're asking that it does to you. This one thing is critical no matter what kind of project management you're doing -- and for pretty much anything else, too.
I told them I wanted scarves;
they gave me silks and fine-woven cambric, gossamer clouds of color.
How could I tell them, then, that I was cold?
I dream of snow-crunch, twig-snap, soft thud of snow falling from a branch;
I want to walk in that cold, ice-bound landscape.
Down coat, warm red mittens, stout boots, and -- joy! --
a cloud-soft woolen scarf around my neck, tucked deep into my coat.
It's hard to remember to ask the client not what they want, but why they want it. But if you don't know that, it can all fall apart. John Bauer's notes on the Agile Boot Camp he attended include this (approximate) quote from Rod Ashton: "When asking why, consider 5 level of 'why’s to get to the bottom of the real need." The rest of his notes from that Agile Boot Camp were valuable too, but that's the one that's ringing like a bell for me. Find a way to keep asking "why do you want that? what will it do for you?" until you're positive you have the root need -- and then ask one or two more times, just to be sure.
Then you have a vision you can be confident will ground the whole project.
In looking for a different way to organize people and projects, I found the Agile Manifesto. The Agile principles of valuing human interactions, collaboration, and openness to change sound wonderful; the focus on sustainability, simplicity, self-organization, and flexibility sounds good too.
I'm starting to study Agile; I'm taking a two-day class in October 2010, and planning to begin an Agile Management program at Berkeley in November 2010. I'll be talking about what I'm learning as I learn it; comments, feedback, questions, and advice are all very welcome.