Organizational Patterns LO18011

Fred Nickols (
Thu, 07 May 1998 07:28:07

Replying to Michael Beedle in LO17996 --

Michael describes an organizational pattern titled "Developer Controls
Process" for use in managing "empirical and unpredictable process[es] such
as software development, scientific research, artistic projects or
innovative designs?" He goes on to describe what he calls a "SCRUM"

>Meet with the team members for a short time in a daily SCRUM meeting. A
>SCRUM meeting is a 15. minutes meeting where each participant only answers
>the following 3 questions:
>1) What they worked in the last 24 hrs. The ScrumMaster
>logs what tasks have been completed and what remains
>2) What blocks if any they found in performing their
>tasks within the last 24 hrs. The ScrumMaster logs
>all Blocks and later finds a way to resolve the Blocks.
>3) What they will be working in the next 24 hrs. The
>ScrumMaster helps the team members choosing the
>appropriate tasks to work on. Because the tasks are
>schedule in a 24 hr basis the tasks are typically small
>(Small Assignments).

Eerie, Michael, really eerie. I led a small software development team in
the mid 1980s that developed a full-blown, PC-based variable life
insurance system (policy issuance and administration) in 89 days flat.
That experience was written up in a 1993 article published in the Journal
of Systems Management. Here is an excerpt:

"Closely coupled with the preceding comment is Peter Drucker's
view that controls should be few in number and simple in nature.
Also, because prototyping efforts are generally short fused, the
formal trappings of managerial control (e.g., plans, budgets, and
schedules) all but disappear. They don't go away, actually, they
just move upstairs, where they belong. Daily, informal progress
meetings are more useful and more appropriate. At Monarch, for
instance, the New York-based development team found itself in
Springfield, Massachusetts for several weeks during the
implementation phase. While in Springfield, I generally took the
team to dinner two or three times each week. Before, during, or
after dinner, I asked the following three questions, recording the
answers on a table napkin:

1. What did you get done today?
2. What are you going to work on tomorrow?
3. What do you need that I can get for you?"

You and others who might be interested in the entire article can find it
at my articles web site. It is titled "Prototyping: Systems Development
in Record Time."


Fred Nickols
The Distance Consulting Company

"The Internet offers the best graduate-level education
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