Abstract: Better Scrum with Essence – An Introduction to the Essence Cards
This video presents how the Essence cards applied to Scrum makes Scrum better without changing its intent. First, Brian Kerr will present the Scrum Essentials Cards. Then, he will play a series of games with these cards, which help teams to make their application of Scrum significantly more successful.
You will discover that these cards are unique:
- They describe the essence of the complete Scrum Guide on just 21 poker-sized cards
- The same set of cards be used to play a very large number of engaging games; in the video Brian demonstrates that by playing four great games.
- The cards reliance on Essence allows teams to compose different practices into complete methods, for example the team can select Scrum, User Stories, Test-Driven Development, and Pair Programing from a library of practices and create their own method.
This video is also a more human presentation of the ACM Queue article: ‘Scrum Essentials Cards – Experiences of Scrum Teams Improving with Essence’ by Jeff Sutherland, Ivar Jacobson and Brian Kerr.
Welcome to the Future – a Future which is already here.
Abstract: Dr Ivar Jacobson's Keynote speech at NIKT Conference in Oslo
Tear down the Method Prisons! Set Free the Practices!
The way we develop software struggles to keep pace with changes in technology and business. Even with the rise of agile we still see people flip-flopping from one branded method (framework) to another throwing away the good with the bad and behaving more like religious cultists than scientists.
Can we truly enable and empower our teams and become true learning organizations whilst we behave more like the fashion industry than an engineering profession? Can we really see our ourselves as an open, diverse and collaborative community whilst we continually attack one another and rebrand, reinvent and rename everything like old hipsters trying to stay in with the in-crowd. Are we doomed to be locked in a never-ending method war in the hope that the one true way emerges to rule them all?
The answer is no. There is a simple way to break out of this cycle of unhealthy competition between methods that are more similar than they are different, and that is to free the practices. Free the practices to rise and fall based on their own merits. Free the practices so that teams can experiment, innovate and plug and play with proven practices to create the way-of-working that they need today and seamlessly evolve into the one they need tomorrow. In this presentation Dr Ivar Jacobson will revisit the history of methods, explain why we need to break out of our repetitive dysfunctional behavior, and introduce Essence: a new way of thinking that promises to liberate the practices and enable true learning organizations.
Abstract: A Better Scrum with Essence
One of the most effective tools in recent years has been the use of Scrum Essential Cards to coach teams to improve their Scrum practice in their organization. These cards describe Scrum by using Essence. Essence is the international standard for defining methods and practices. Ivar Jacobson's company has worked with Dr. Jeff Sutherland, the Co-Creator of Scrum, to define a set of cards that provides a complete definition of Scrum consistent with the Scrum Guide. For instance, the cards have been used to have teams "Build Their Own Scrum" to clarify what parts of their implementation need work and define process improvements that need to be made in each sprint. Jeff Sutherland: “Work with these cards with hundreds of teams shows that the average Scrum team implements 1/3 of the 21 components of Scrum well, 1/3 of the components poorly, and 1/3 of pieces of Scrum not at all. Daily practice with only a third of components working well is like driving a car with wheels missing.”
Exercises with these cards are dramatically revealing about how Scrum should work, how people on the same team may have different ideas about what Scrum is, and what a team needs to do next to improve their process. Jeff Sutherland: “One participant in this exercise using the Scrum cards said he learned more about Scrum in one hour with the Essence cards than he did in the previous six years of being on a Scrum team.”
In particular, Scrum Essentials can result in a better retrospective, improved selection of process improvements for each sprint, a more clarifying Daily Scrum, and a more valuable shippable increment of product at every Sprint Review.
Learning Goals In this talk Dr. Ivar Jacobson will respond to the questions ‘why Essence’ and ‘what is Essence’ but focus on the question ‘How does Essence make Scrum better’. In particular, he will describe some new use cases of critical value to teams:
- Understand the Essentials of Scrum
- See where you are in your endeavor
- Plan your own achievements
- Adapt Scrum to your own needs
- Live Guidance™
- Dispersed teams
Although the focus of the talk is on getting a better Scrum, the talk will naturally extend to getting a better software engineering in general – an objective on the design of Essence by the organizations that created the Essence OMG standard.
Dr. Ivar Jacobson has been identified as a candidate to the title: ”Father of software engineering”. His contributions span over 50 years starting from components and component architecture in 1968 to the essentials of modern software engineering in 2019. In between, he created Use Cases and what became the Unified Process in 1986 and he was the co-creator of UML in 1997. Ivar has authored eleven books and written hundreds of papers on subjects related to software, system and business engineering.
Abstract: Tokyo keynote July 21: Modern software engineering with Essence
In this talk Dr. Ivar Jacobson discusses major issues we face when developing software which Essence addresses. A great opportunity to understand ‘Why we need Essence?’
Abstract: 50 years of software engineering, so now what?
Software Engineering was the theme of a 1968 conference in Garmisch, Germany, with at the time the leading computer scientists and methodologists in the world. That meeting is considered being the beginning of software engineering and by now we have developed the discipline over 50 years.
"This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning" (Winston Churchill).
We are more than 20 million software developers on the planet, with a large number of methods to develop software. However, the most successful recipe for success is a method that focuses on hiring the most brilliant people in the world and empowering them to create wonders. 50 years ago, Ericsson in Sweden did that. Now Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. do that.
What about the rest of the world? – banks, insurance, airlines, defense, telecom, automotive, etc. How can we get these industries to be more innovative and develop better software, faster, cheaper and with happier customers? How can we do that given that the state of the art of our discipline is in such a chaos, characterized by the multitude of competing methods out there?
The most powerful way to help the rest of the world to build excellent software is to dramatically increase the competency (and skill) of all of us. There are no shortcuts. Education must start from an understanding of the heart of software development, from a common ground that is universal to all software development endeavors. The common ground must be extensible to allow for any method with its practices to be defined on top of it. This would allow us to sort out the chaos and to increase the competency of all of us. As a plus, that competency increase wouldn't hurt the brilliant people, but make them even more productive than today. In this presentation Dr. Ivar Jacobson will revisit the history of methods, explain why we need to break out of our repetitive dysfunctional behavior, and introduce Essence: a new way of thinking that promises many things, one of them being to dramatically change the way we educate in software development to increase the competency in our profession.
Abstract: A Better Scrum with Essence, with Jeff Sutherland
Daily Scrum practice is plagued with disfunction in over 50% of "agile" teams. This causes projects to be late, over budget, with unhappy customers. The key to agile coaching is to make the dysfunction clear without being directive so a team can decide for itself how to self-organize towards a shippable increment every sprint that delivers real value.
One of the most effective tools in recent years has been the use of Scrum Essential Cards to coach teams to improve their practices in their organization and explain to everyone who needs to know how the practices work in a specific organization. These cards describe Scrum by using Essence. Essence is the international standard for defining methods and practices. Ivar Jacobson's company has worked with the Co-Creator of Scrum to define a set of cards that provides a complete definition of Scrum consistent with the Scrum Guide. For instance, the cards have been used to have teams "Build Their Own Scrum" to clarify what parts of their implementation need work and define process improvements that need to be made in each sprint. Work with these cards with hundreds of teams shows that the average Scrum team implements 1/3 of the 21 components of Scrum well, 1/3 of the components poorly, and 1/3 of pieces of Scrum not at all. Daily practice with only a third of components working well is like driving a car with wheels missing.
Exercises with these cards are dramatically revealing about how practices should work, how people on the same team may have different ideas about what practices are, and what a team needs to do next to improve their process. One participant in this exercise using the Scrum cards said he learned more about Scrum in one hour with the Essence cards than he did in the previous six years of being on a Scrum team.
In particular Essence can result in a better retrospective, improved selection of process improvements for each sprint, a more clarifying Daily Scrum, and a more valuable shippable increment of product at every Sprint Review.
Abstract: Essence in Action
In the first seminar of the series we looked at the benefits from having a way to organise the knowledge of how we engineer software, having a common ground of universal concepts to build upon, and allowing the mixing and matching of various practices defined on top of it. Essence is this new way of thinking about software development. It gives us a standard way to capture and combine these practices, which may come from many different sources, to describe a team’s way of working.
In this presentation we will introduce some of the key ideas behind Essence, not in terms of the theory but by demonstrating how teams can put these ideas to work. We will see how we go from the traditional world where practices are just static descriptions, to one where the practices come to life and are actively used.
Most teams are familiar with representing their work items on cards, such as their user stories, change requests, defects, etc. They can be in either physical or electronic form and are great for helping to organize, prioritise, visualize and track the work. Essence uses a similar technique to represent the key concepts of working practices as a set of cards. This opens up a whole new set of powerful games, allowing a team to reason about and greatly improve their way of working.
Making the team's way of working something tangible that they can see, touch and manipulate, can facilitate deep conversations and decision making around their process. It stops being a reference and becomes something that is used, adapted and living. We will see some example Essence games that teams can play to get started, track progress, and importantly identify improvements over time to their process. The games can be applied to any set of practices and the widely used one of Scrum will be used to illustrate the gameplay.
Abstract: What is Essence?
So, what is Essence? Put simply, Essence is an international standard that defines two things:
- A standard language for talking about what we do, and how we do it
- A common “kernel” of key things that we encounter whenever we do it.
- The Essence language is simple, visual and intuitive.
- It is designed to help us clearly express the common challenges that we share, and the practices that help us to be successful.
Core language elements include:
Practice - an approach to achieving a specific objective (such as "Scrum" or "User Stories") Activity - something we do to advance towards our objective (such as "Sprint Planning") Alpha - the key things we progress and track progress of (such as "Product Backlog Item") Work Product - the things we produce and update (such as a "Sprint Plan" or "Kanban Board") Competency - the capabilities and skills we need to be successful. The Essence Kernel defines the core concepts that are universal - i.e. to be found wherever and whenever we do software engineering. The authors of the standard had a simple rule - for any concept, if we can think of an example of an endeavor where it is not central or relevant, then it was not included in the kernel. Examples of Kernel Alphas include:
The Opportunity - the reason why we need a solution of some kind (covering for example things variously referred to as the "business goals", "problem", "need", "value" etc.) The Requirements - what we need a solution to do in order to address the Opportunity (meet the needs, solve the problems, realise the value, ...) The Team - the group of people that work together to produce a solution that meets the requirements The magic of Essence is that if we simply take the time to share our practices using a common language, and relate then to our shared challenges, then practitioners can easily understand them, compare and contrast them, select the ones that are of most value, see how they fit and work together, and adapt them to meet their needs, all while maintaining absolute clarity and transparency of their way of working at all times.
Papers & Blogs
- The Essence of Software Engineering
- Live Guidance - A Revolution in Software Development Practice
- Tear Down the Method Prisons! Set Free the Practices!
- Scrum Essentials Cards
- A New Software Engineering
- Industrial Scale Agile - from Craft to Engineering
- Agile and SEMAT - Perfect Partners
- Industrial Internet Needs Many Methods: CACM Publication
- 24 Questions