When over 10 years ago I was trying to designi my first scrum workshop for a team I was managing, I had two goals: 1. force my distracted mind to think, 2. make the team use empiricism and self-organization. To be honest I had no other idea on how to help a team/group more experienced than me in the technology we were using. I was dreaming of reproducing at least some substitute of my previous experiences with teams that were way smaller than this one.
Some time later (or maybe earlier? who knows) while i was on my way to my first meeting with Ken Schwaber, with literally a mile-long questions list, I had no idea that at some point teaching Scrum was going to become my ultimate/primary occupation, and that my life was going to speed up so much more. From the moment i have decided to devote myself to this mission i have been feeling like a Spontaneous Snail.
The velocity I am working with and nearly a vertical learning curve are making me work and live instinctively.
A lot quicker than I am able to think/ The velocity is higher than my capability of thinking/to think. The consciousness doesn’t catch up until the weekend. It is then, when I unload my event-baggage/luggage/suitcase, I can’t help but wonder – how on earth am I making my way in this? New people, new organizations, new challenges and new contexts. Every day. Every week. Every month. Maybe it’s because by definition I am a sceptic and empiricism could be my second name – i just have to touch it to believe it. There’s no other way. Maybe it’s because self-organization, if given a chance, just defends itself? Or maybe because most problems have the same background that needs a helping hand to be seen? I have been privileged enough to be able to observe the acceleration of change after sowing a little seed of idea that waterfall, in all shapes or sizes, is just wrong.
Kill it, kill it with fire.
A book? Meh. It has started with my friends’ more of a statement than question “Just write a f****&ing book”. At that point, and ever after, whenever I am asked by my friends about my book’s publishing date (“When will you put it all in a book!?”) I ask myself: 1. Am I experienced enough to sum it all up? 2. If I am, what would I write about? About Scrum? Meh, those who are intelligent and inquistive have Scrum Guide, and those who are even more curious have “Scrum-The Pocket Guide” by Gunther Verheyn. About being a Scrum Master? Damn it/Darn, Geoff Watts has already written it. About being a Product Owner? Damn it/Darn, Geoff Watts again! About Scrum practices and techniques? This is also a Meh point for me. Everyone everywhere is writing about it, and with a reverse-freaking-effect. Scrum-tale-spinning authors are taking the fun of learning on their own mistakes away from their readers. And then those readers spin in circles looking for answers, rejecting bad (not working) advices, automatically searching for new ones like they don’t have/lack in their own intelect.
Do you know any good ways for retrospective? What Daily Scrum leading techniques do you know? What backlog ordering techniques do you know? What are the ways to activate a team on events, I’ve tried everything? It’s like those ways and techniques are everything about it. Or maybe?
“Or maybe a book about agile transformations?” – the too friendly prompted. Still no. It’s too contextual for me to write about it without falling into long, boring and abstractional dissertations. It’s too complex to not to fall into a trap of writing about Scrum, a different version of Scrum, but still Scrum (see above). Besides, it wouldn’t be easy to do it without some specific real life examples, and there are either my client’s aversion to describe their problems or NDA’s standing in my way to do it properly.
So I have set the book idea aside. Meh.
It had hit me a couple of months ago, while we were implementing the last changes to our board game, calibrating the balance, and specifically when i was reading and trying to fix some sentences in the game manual for a hundredth time, trying to get rid of all the misspelling and wrong sentencing.
A book that isn’t a book. It’s a board game!
Iterate™ Product Development Game is going to be the only book I will ever write. A book that doesn’t give advice. A book that will not only encourage but also reinforce experiencing and learning from one’s own mistakes.
There’s not going to be any other book. By the way, even this one wouldn’t have happened if a couple of years ago, after a workshop, Kamil (at that point one of my students) wouldn’t have come up with a suggestion to transform my agile project simulation into a full-blown board game. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Kasia taking on the design work, withstanding my whining and mad perfectionism. The development process was not easy. Not easy at all. We didn’t always share opinions, have enough time, and sometimes we weren’t willing enough to work. Some of us had different visions of the goal and determination to achieve it. We were losing a battle between a never-fucking-ending-stream-of-work (btw this is the name we are using for our trello board) and the ability to get things (shit) done. There were a lot of moments of hesitation for me when I really thought I was tilting at windmills. How on earth does one design and attractive, absorbing (addictive!) and, most of all, educational board game? And how is it suppose to show the complexity of the world of software development without falling into naive simplifications and trivial cliches?! Fail safe. Fail fast. Learn faster.
And yet it’s here. It’s here. Phew.
For those hungry of meat there’s an extensive game manual. For those lusting after plot twists there are 80 event cards inspired by actual events. For all those rpg strategists there are 10 scenarios for them to bite into to endlessly train their tactics. For those into competition there’s a Competitiveness Score to achieve. And for those who need their experiences intensified, there’s the Trainers program that will embrace using the game as an educational aid on their workshops and trainings (this is where it all happens!).
There’s not going to be another, or any other book. Unless this one turns out to be a best-seller and there’s going to be a need for
a Vol. 2 an extention pack. Those I’ll be more than happy to “write”. Experience is a sum of your mistakes. Play the game and build your experience. Hope your reading will be good fun.