Category Archives: Starter Pack

How a restaurant chain uses SCRUM to change how we eat

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to Cosmo, a pan-Asian restaurant in Sheffield. It was a different experience for me. You book your table for a certain time, and you have an hour and a half at the restaurant, during which time there’s a fixed-price menu and a fixed-price drink per person. There is a buffet of food and you eat as much as you like, as many plates as you like.

However, I’m not plugging Cosmo – there are other restaurants. I hear Jimmy Spice does the same – there will be others.

What I’m interested in is the difference in the experience between this kind of restaurant and traditional restaurants.

As I sat and ate at Cosmo with my family, I realised that this is an attempt to disrupt the traditional restaurant model. Cosmo makes its money from the volume, because instead of having a table taken up for the entire evening, it fills them up in shifts – six to seven-thirty, seven-thirty to nine, nine to ten-thirty – so they get three times the number of people in. They also have huge amounts of tables.

In a traditional restaurant you usually book a start time because you want to make sure you’ve got a table. They probably know roughly how long you’re going to be there. When you arrive, you look at the menu, order the food. All the prices are there, so as you arrive you don’t know what the bill’s going to be. Once you finish, you pay and leave. Someone comes and serves you at your table. It isn’t fixed cost. It isn’t fixed delivery, because you order what they’ve got, and they cook it while you’re there.

At Cosmo, it’s the other way around. There’s a start time and a stop time, which is a very SCRUM thing – a sprint. During that time the whole set of food (already cooked) is available for you to choose from, and each time you get a plate, it’s like a sprint. You fill the plate, go back to your chair, and eat. Then someone clears the plate away for you, and you go away for another plate of food. It’s fixed price, fixed time, variable food. And it’s all pre-cooked, ready for you to eat.

Lets summarise.

  • It has a product backlog (“All the food is available already cooked.”)
  • It has sprints (“One plate at a time!”)
  • It has time-boxed iterations (“You have a table for 90 minutes.”)
  • Cost is fixed, scope is not (“Eat all you like for £12.95.”)

So I’ll leave you with this thought: Where else have you seen the key SCRUM methods – fixed time, variable scope, etc. – take over from more traditional ways of doing things? Taxis, laundry services, ironing services, cleaning services?

A Scrum Master’s first SCRUM Board

A big day today. I saw the first scrum board of a newly qualified scrum master. I’ve been able to encourage and support her in getting her thinking ready, and recommended her scrum master training (thanks Gab). So here it is: Rosa’s first scrum board – first week.

I had a strange feeling…

It was a bit like how I felt when each of my sons took their first steps oh so many years ago. (Too many years ago.)  I felt proud, excited and worried. 🙂

I’m very proud to see this starting. The first scrum board in a company – It’s like breaking ground. I’m excited to wonder how far the transformation at this company can go – how efficient and “performant” they can get.

I’m worried because I so want it to work… If only they could learn from all my mistakes.

“History repeats itself – it has to; no one listens.”

Using Agile Transformations to make decisions

Decisions are easy if you know why you are making them

If you play the role of project manager and you’re not skilled in having this type of trade-off conversation, you will likely hate your job over time – and maybe even implode. And that also sucks … for you, your team, your business leaders, and your candidates. The world needs good recruiting pros like you.

Making decisions

Good inputs lead to good outputs. So getting the right information and context before you make a big decision is critical. But this is where reality gets in the way of ideals. We often don’t have all of the stakeholder feedback we want and need to make a wonderfully well-educated, totally defensible decision. We don’t often have enough past data (ROI, metrics) to predict the future. We often don’t even know how receptive our end users will be to some of our planned deliverables — will it really solve the problem we think it will solve?

Some of us say screw it, and just dive into the deep end, not knowing what we’ll find — you know, the thrill-seeker types. And then there are the types who won’t make any decision without having 100% confidence that they’re making the right decision. They need a lot of validation – maybe too much buy-in and data. And then most of us are somewhere in between.

So, here’s the deal. There is no pause button in HR. Things often move whether we’re ready or not, with or without us. And — this is important — not deciding is deciding. Delaying decisions in a world where your deadline is relatively immovable (i.e. we need 20 new sales reps to launch this new market by March 1, or else we won’t hit our sales goal for 2013) will force you to make decisions … sometimes, bad decisions that impact quality, or cost you money you don’t have. Jason Warner and I co-led a recruiting leadership workshop, and when we debrief on group scenarios related to making trade-offs and big decisions, he usually says something like, “People will rarely remember if you blew your budget a year from now — they’ll remember whether you delivered quality on time, though.” I think that’s almost always the case, too.

When leading projects, we’re required — sometimes even forced — to make decisions early and often. I recall advice I got from a project management guru I worked with a few years ago. He said, “We can’t afford to have more meetings, to delay this any longer. If it’s generally correct, and not specifically wrong, we go with what we have.”

At the time I heard that, I was relieved … mostly because it meant we were actually going to get something done in this meeting, and not make this meeting (like many before it) about planning our agenda for our next meeting, or talking about talking about stuff. (That’s not a typo … sometimes we have meetings where we actually talk about future things we need to talk about for 30 minutes!) Meetings should be about decisions, and this guy was giving us permission to decide, to move ahead. Thank you.