Book Club: The People’s Scrum


We asked our Senior Consultant and Director of Agile Solutions, Grant Beck what was the last book he read. Grant’s last read was The People’s Scrum: Agile Ideas for Revolutionary Transformation by Tobias Mayer. Interested in Agile and want a quick read? Pick this one up.

 Three Reasons Why You Should Read This Book

1. Easily Consumable: 

It’s not often I find extended periods of time to read – I can sometimes find close to an hour before bed, steal a few minutes between meetings or during lunch, and catch some uninterrupted time bouncing back and forth on my bus commute. Coming in at just under 150 pages, The People’s Scrum isn’t back-breaking in its scope, and is comprised of a collection of essays. Each essay makes up one chapter, and is no longer than several pages. It’s not necessary to progress through the material from front to back, as each chapter can stand on its own. This facilitates finishing any chapter and then taking a pause to consider, contemplate, and reflect in-depth about that particular subject without a fear of losing continuity.

2. Emphasis on People:

The first value listed in the Agile Manifesto is ‘people and interactions over processes and tools.’ However, many books I have read about Scrum devote a majority of their material to framework mechanics, processes, and techniques.  Mayer addresses the critics who trivialize and dismiss Agile approaches as “touchy-feely” and “soft’ as ultimately avoiding the truly challenging job of human engagement.  Simply stated, acknowledging and engaging people with active listening, healthy dialog, trust and respect while promoting self-organization and conflict resolution to deliver a complex project takes a tremendous amount of courage.  This is the hard stuff!  Many of the chapters in this book maintain a focus on people, and as an Agile coach, I appreciate this emphasis.

3. Slap in the Face:

Finally, if a book challenges the status quo, testing not only my assumptions but also my beliefs, it certainly gets my attention.  The People’ Scrum definitely aims to provoke, and the author admittedly strives to offer ideas to inspire disagreement.  Undeniably there were a few unsettling moments of cognitive dissonance – whether it was the assertion that a team is better served by committing to a sprint backlog on gut feeling rather than on data points, or that distributed teams are not teams – I found myself pleasantly uncomfortable assimilating some of the arguments.  I find this “shaking of the foundations” a healthy process to stay curious and keep myself from becoming complacent in either my practice or understanding of Agile.

The People's Scrum

Interested in discussing some of the essays in this book? Come to the next Plaster Group-hosted Agile Mixer. The Agile Mixer is a Seattle-based gathering created to provide an informal setting for networking and information sharing between existing or aspiring Agilists.