In issue 3 of the ’5 questions’ series we hear from Mike Cohn. Mike is the author of some of the most successful IT books, including Agile Estimating and Planning, User Stories Applied and his upcoming new book Succeeding with Agile. A big thankyou to Mike for taking the time to squeeze these answers into his incredibly busy schedule.
Bio. Mike Cohn is the founder of Mountain Goat Software (www.mountaingoatsoftware.com), where he teaches and coaches on Scrum and agile development. He is the author of Agile Estimating and Planning, User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, and the upcoming Succeeding with Agile: Software Development with Scrum. With more than 25 years of experience, Mike has previously been a technology executive in companies of various sizes, from startup to Fortune 40. A frequent magazine contributor and conference speaker, Mike is a founding member of the Scrum Alliance and the Agile Alliance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q1. Can you describe what you would consider the top Scrum enabler in an organization?
People who want to do something better than they are doing it today. This could be a group that wants to build a product that is smaller or faster or cheaper than anyone else has ever done. Or it could be a group wants to continue to enhance their existing product or service faster, more efficiently, or with higher quality. Wherever this type of passion exists, it can be used to help Scrum take off in that organization.
Q2. Where do you see Scrum in 5 years time?
I’d like to see all of agile be the default way for doing software development. Five or so years ago a lot of the issues were around how can we plan if we’re agile and how can we do it with forty people on the project. Those issues are behind us and plenty of teams have shown us how to overcome those challenges.
Today I hear a lot of questions about how do we do Scrum on globally distributed projects, how do we do it on very large projects, how do we do it within the full organization and so on. Those issues, too, will be behind us in five years.
Q3. What has been your toughest Scrum challenge so far?
I think they’re all tough. Scrum teaches us though that we overcome the challenges by breaking large obstacles into small pieces and continuously making progress.
Q4. What makes you passionate about Scrum?
I’ve always been passionate about anything to do with software. When I spend all-day programming, I would spend all evening reading about programming or doing more programming. When I started managing or running departments, I got passionate about those aspects of software development.
I think I’m passionate about software development because it’s fun. It’s fun to create something, especially something as useful as a new piece of software can be.
Q5. What can we learn from you about Scrum?
The things that I learn from the teams I work with. All of the ideas I teach or write about are ones that I learned from working with different teams.