Scrum by Jeff Sutherland

At first glance, Scrum looks like a productivity or self-help book for individuals. It is not. (Just wanted to get this out of the way, as imo the title/subtitle of the book could have been clearer.) Scrum is about team productivity. The book provides a framework for working in transparent, robust teams.

The book is a nice refresher (or introduction) on why Scrum is an ideal framework to use in development. The book takes Scrum to another level and shows that it can be implemented outside of the tech industry. While the entire framework is encapsulated in the five-page appendix, the actual book focuses on the context in which Scrum works—the why.

Surprisingly, this was an engaging read. The book was thoughtfully (and beautifully!) written, with a non-technical audience in mind. Jeff Sutherland has a background in military, so some anecdotes revolved around that industry knowledge. Nevertheless. he explained the concepts well. and we come out learning a little more about the military. (Speaking of, early internet jargon was adapted from military lingo. If you are interested in the evolution of language as it was influenced by the internet, read Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch.)

The last chapter, however, I found unnecessary …or too much. Throughout the book, Jeff Sutherland already shared insights on how other companies used Scrum, so I felt that the content of the last chapter could have been integrated with with previous chapters instead. I glossed over the majority of this last chapter—at that point, he seemed to be taking credit for things that he didn’t implement himself. Maybe those examples could have been in an appendix instead? If Sutherland was simply looking for a way to end his book, perhaps he could have combined the last two sections of the previous chapter with the last section of the last chapter. Just to give closure.

Overall, Scrum was a productive read. It was surprisingly quotable for a project management book; there was a thoughtfulness in the writing that made me think of the book as more than a project management guide. While I do not believe that Scrum works in all contexts, the book was a good reminder of why Scrum set the bar in tech.

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