Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process

Kenneth S. Rubin  
Total pages
July 2012
Related Titles

Product detail

Product Price CHF Available  
Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process


If you want to use Scrum to develop innovative products and services that delight your customers, Essential Scrum is the complete, single-source reference you’ve been searching for. Leading Scrum coach and trainer Kenny Rubin illuminates the values, principles, and practices of Scrum, and describes flexible, proven approaches that can help you implement it far more effectively.

Whether you are new to Scrum or years into your use, this book will introduce, clarify, and deepen your Scrum knowledge at the team, product, and portfolio levels. Drawing from Rubin’s experience helping hundreds of organisations succeed with Scrum, this book provides easy-to-digest descriptions enhanced by more than two hundred illustrations based on an entirely new visual icon language for describing Scrum’s roles, artifacts, and activities.

Essential Scrum will provide every team member, manager, and executive with a common understanding of Scrum, a shared vocabulary they can use in applying it, and practical knowledge for deriving maximum value from it.

Table of Contents

List of Figures xxv

Foreword by Mike Cohn xxxi

Foreword by Ron Jeffries xxxiii

Preface xxxv

Acknowledgments xxxix

About the Author xliii

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

What Is Scrum? 1

Scrum Origins 3

Why Scrum? 4

Genomica Results 4

Can Scrum Help You? 5

Closing 10

Part I: Core Concepts 11

Chapter 2: Scrum Framework 13

Overview 13

Scrum Roles 14

Scrum Activities and Artifacts 16

Closing 28

Chapter 3: Agile Principles 29

Overview 29

Variability and Uncertainty 32

Prediction and Adaptation 37

Just-in-Time Work 43

Validated Learning 44

Work in Process (WIP) 48

Progress 54

Performance 56

Closing 58

Chapter 4: Sprints 61

Overview 61

Timeboxed 62

Short Duration 64

Consistent Duration 67

No Goal-Altering Changes 69

Definition of Done 74

Closing 78

Chapter 5: Requirements and User Stories 79

Overview 79

Using Conversations 81

Progressive Refinement 82

What Are User Stories? 83

Level of Detail 86

INVEST in Good Stories 88

Nonfunctional Requirements 93

Knowledge-Acquisition Stories 93

Gathering Stories 95

Closing 98

Chapter 6: Product Backlog 99

Overview 99

Product Backlog Items 100

Good Product Backlog Characteristics 101

Grooming 104

Definition of Ready 108

Flow Management 110

Which and How Many Product Backlogs? 112

Closing 118

Chapter 7: Estimation and Velocity 119

Overview 119

What and When We Estimate 120

PBI Estimation Concepts 123

PBI Estimation Units 128

Planning Poker 129

What Is Velocity? 133

Calculate a Velocity Range 134

Forecasting Velocity 135

Affecting Velocity 135

Misusing Velocity 137

Closing 138

Chapter 8: Technical Debt 139

Overview 139

Consequences of Technical Debt 141

Causes of Technical Debt 144

Technical Debt Must Be Managed 148

Managing the Accrual of Technical Debt 149

Making Technical Debt Visible 153

Servicing the Technical Debt 155

Closing 162

Part II: Roles 163

Chapter 9: Product Owner 165

Overview 165

Principal Responsibilities 166

Characteristics/Skills 171

A Day in the Life 174

Who Should Be a Product Owner? 176

Product Owner Combined with Other Roles 181

Product Owner Team 182

Closing 184

Chapter 10: ScrumMaster 185

Overview 185

Principal Responsibilities 185

Characteristics/Skills 188

A Day in the Life 190

Fulfilling the Role 191

Closing 193

Chapter 11: Development Team 195

Overview 195

Role-Specific Teams 195

Principal Responsibilities 196

Characteristics/Skills 198

Closing 211

Chapter 12: Scrum Team Structures 213

Overview 213

Feature Teams versus Component Teams 213

Multiple-Team Coordination 218

Closing 223

Chapter 13: Managers 225

Overview 225

Fashioning Teams 227

Nurturing Teams 231

Aligning and Adapting the Environment 233

Managing Value-Creation Flow 235

Project Managers 237

Closing 243

Part III: Planning 245

Chapter 14: Scrum Planning Principles 247

Overview 247

Don’t Assume We Can Get the Plans Right Up Front 248

Up-Front Planning Should Be Helpful without Being Excessive 248

Keep Planning Options Open Until the Last Responsible Moment 249

Focus More on Adapting and Replanning Than on Conforming to a Plan 249

Correctly Manage the Planning Inventory 251

Favor Smaller and More Frequent Releases 252

Plan to Learn Fast and Pivot When Necessary 254

Closing 255

Chapter 15: Multilevel Planning 257

Overview 257

Portfolio Planning 259

Product Planning (Envisioning) 259

Release Planning 261

Sprint Planning 264

Daily Planning 264

Closing 265

Chapter 16: Portfolio Planning 267

Overview 267

Scheduling Strategies 270

Inflow Strategies 275

Outflow Strategies 280

In-Process Strategies 283

Closing 285

Chapter 17: Envisioning (Product Planning) 287

Overview 287

SR4U Example 290

Visioning 291

High-Level Product Backlog Creation 294

Product Roadmap Definition 295

Other Activities 298

Economically Sensible Envisioning 299

Closing 306

Chapter 18: Release Planning (Longer-Term Planning) 307

Overview 307

Release Constraints 311

Grooming the Product Backlog 315

Refine Minimum Releasable Features (MRFs) 316

Sprint Mapping (PBI Slotting) 316

Fixed-Date Release Planning 318

Fixed-Scope Release Planning 323

Calculating Cost 325

Communicating 326

Closing 330

Part IV: Sprinting 333

Chapter 19: Sprint Planning 335

Overview 335

Approaches to Sprint Planning 338

Determining Capacity 340

Selecting Product Backlog Items 343

Acquiring Confidence 344

Refine the Sprint Goal 346

Finalize the Commitment 346

Closing 346

Chapter 20: Sprint Execution 347

Overview 347

Sprint Execution Planning 349

Flow Management 349

Daily Scrum 354

Task Performance—Technical Practices 355

Communicating 356

Closing 360

Chapter 21: Sprint Review 363

Overview 363

Participants 364

Prework 365

Approach 368

Sprint Review Issues 372

Closing 373

Chapter 22: Sprint Retrospective 375

Overview 375

Participants 377

Prework 378

Approach 380

Follow Through 391

Sprint Retrospective Issues 392

Closing 393

Chapter 23: The Path Forward 395

There Is No End State 395

Discover Your Own Path 396

Sharing Best Practices 396

Using Scrum to Discover the Path Forward 397

Get Going! 398

Glossary 401

References 423

Index 427


Kenneth S. Rubin provides Scrum and Agile training and coaching to help companies develop products more effectively and economically. A Certified Scrum Trainer, he has trained more than eighteen thousand people on Agile and Scrum, Smalltalk development, managing object-oriented projects, and transition management. He has coached hundreds of companies, ranging from startups to the Fortune 10. Rubin was the first Managing Director of the worldwide Scrum Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on successful Scrum adoption. His diverse development roles have included successful stints as Scrum product owner, ScrumMaster, and developer. Rubin’s executive management roles have included CEO, COO, VP of Engineering, VP of Product Management, and VP of Professional Services. He is the author of Succeeding with Objects (Addison-Wesley, 1995).

Reader Review(s)

“Agile coaches, you're gonna be happy with this book. Kenny Rubin has created an indispensable resource for us. Do you have a manager that just doesn't 'get it'? Hand them this book and ask them to flip to Chapter 3 for a complete explanation of how Scrum is less risky than plan-driven management. It's written just for them-in management-speak. Want to help the team come to a common understanding of Scrum? The visual icon language used throughout this book will help you help them. These are just two ways this book can aid you to coach Scrum teams. Use it well.”
-Lyssa Adkins, Coach of Agile Coaches, Agile Coaching Institute; author, Coaching Agile Teams


“One of the best, most comprehensive descriptions of the core Scrum framework out there! Essential Scrum is for anyone-new to or experienced with Scrum-who's interested in the most important aspects of the process. Kenny does an excellent job of distilling the key tenets of the Scrum framework into a simple format with compelling visuals. As a Scrum coach for many teams, I continually reference the material for new ways to help teams that are learning and practicing the framework. I've seen Scrum continually misinterpreted and poorly implemented by big companies and tool vendors for more than ten years. Reading this book will help you get back to the basics and focus on what's important.”
-Joe Balistrieri, Process Development Manager, Rockwell Automation


“Corporate IT leadership, which has been slow to embrace agile methods, would benefit immensely from giving a copy of this book to all of their project and delivery managers. Kenny Rubin has laid out in this book all the pragmatic business case and process materials needed for any corporate IT shop to successfully implement Scrum.”
-John F. Bauer III, veteran of technical solution delivery in large corporate IT shops


“Kenny's extensive experience as a consultant, trainer, and past managing director of the Scrum Alliance is evident in this book. Along with providing the basics and introduction to Scrum, this book addresses the questions of masses-what happens to project managers? Essential Scrum helps us understand the big picture and guides how organization leaders can support and be involved with their Scrum teams for successful agile transformations.”
-Sameer S. Bendre CSM, PMP, Senior Consultant, 3i Infotech Inc.


“If you're new to agile development or to Scrum, this book will give you a flying start. The examples and descriptions are clear and vivid, and you'll often find yourself asking a question just before the book addresses that very topic.”
-Johannes Brodwall, Principal Solution Architect, Steria Norway


“Kenny's well-structured explanations have a clarity to them that echoes the sensibilities of Smalltalk-the development environment with which he worked for years and from which both Scrum and Extreme Programming were born. This book pulls together a thorough set of agile management principles that really hit the mark and will no doubt guide you toward a more effective agile approach.”
-Rowan Bunning, Founder, Scrum WithStyle


“There are lots of books on Scrum these days, but this book takes a new angle, a reality check for software practitioners. Kenny uses real-world examples and clear illustrations to show what makes a solid foundation for successful agile development. Readers will understand the value of building quality in, and the reality that we can't get everything right up front; we must work incrementally and learn as we go. It might have 'Scrum' in the title, but the book leverages effective practices from the larger agile universe to help managers and their teams succeed.”
-Lisa Crispin, coauthor, Agile Testing


“Kenny Rubin managed to write the book that I want everyone associated with Scrum development to read! He covers everything you'll need to know about Scrum and more!”
-Martine Devos, European Scrum Pioneer and Certified Scrum Trainer


“I've reviewed a number of agile books in the past few years, so the question of 'Do we really need another one?' always comes to my mind. In the case of Kenny's book, I very much believe the answer is 'yes.' Getting the benefit of different, experienced perspectives on commonly encountered and needed material is valuable. Kenny has one of those valuable perspectives. One unique aspect of the book is an interesting 'iconography'-a new icon language for Scrum and agile that Kenny has created. I believe you'll find value-added material in this book to expand your ideas for how Scrum can be applied.”
-Scott Duncan, Agile/Scrum coach and trainer


“Anyone who has had Scrum training or has been part of a Scrum team will find Essential Scrum to be a great follow-up read. It dives into the details of how to become more agile through implementing Scrum processes, and it explains exactly how to break down complex projects into manageable initiatives (or 'sprints'). Kenny Rubin provides a wealth of relevant case studies on what worked-or what didn't-in a variety of organizations. The simple layout and businesslike graphics make it easy to scan quickly and find specific topics. Any organization that is seeking to evolve from a traditional waterfall approach toward a more agile methodology will find Essential Scrum a definitive guidebook for the journey.”
-Julia Frazier, product manager


“Developing software is hard. Adopting a new way of working while in a project is even harder. This book offers a bypass of many of the pitfalls and will accelerate a team's ability to produce business value and become successful with Scrum. I wish I had this kind of book when I started using Scrum.”
-Geir Hedemark, Development Manager, Basefarm AS


“I am convinced that Essential Scrum will become the foundation reference for the next generation of Scrum practitioners. Not only is it the most comprehensive introduction to Scrum in publication today, but it is also extremely well written and easy on the eye with its fantastic new visual Scrum language. If that isn't enough, Kenny shares a range of his valuable personal insights and experiences that we can all certainly learn from.”
-Ilan Goldstein, Agile Solutions Manager, Reed Elsevier


“Scrum is elegantly simple, yet deceptively complex. In Essential Scrum, Kenny Rubin provides us with a step-by-step guide to those complexities while retaining the essential simplicity. Real-world experiences coupled with enlightening illustrations make Scrum come to life. For senior managers and team members alike, this is a must-read book if you are starting or considering whether to implement Scrum in your organization. This will certainly be a book recommended to my students.”
-John Hebley, Hebley & Associates


“Kenny unpacks a wealth of wisdom and knowledge in Essential Scrum, providing valuable and comprehensive insights to the practical application of agile/Scrum. Whether you're new to agile or are looking to reach a greater maturity of continuous improvement in your organization, this is a definitive handbook for your toolbox.”
-David Luzquiños, Head of Agile Enablement, Agile Coach, Betfair


“Kenny Rubin continues to provide clarity and insight into adopting agile in a pragmatic way. In one hand he holds the formal or ideal Scrum definition and in the other, the pragmatic application of it. He brings the wisdom of his workshops and years of experience to the table, and now for you to read in his latest book. If you are about to start out on your agile adoption journey or are seeking guidance midcourse, grab a copy.”
-Cuan Mulligan, freelance coactive Agile coach


“A decade after publication of the first Scrum books, it is time to combine the essential aspects of the Scrum framework with the practical experiences and approaches of the last ten years. Kenny Rubin does so in a satisfying and nondogmatic way. The reader gets a pragmatic look at Scrum and learns when and how to best apply Scrum to achieve business benefits.”
-Yves Stalgies, PhD, Director IT,


“Adoption of Scrum is most successful when everyone involved-even peripherally-with product development has a good understanding of the fundamentals. Essential Scrum provides an ideal overview of both the big picture and the details in an accessible style. It is sure to become a standard reference.”
-Kevin Tureski, Principal, Kevin Tureski Consulting