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Enterprise Excellence Episode 6: Jeff Sutherland


Welcome to episode six of the enterprise excellence podcast. I am honoured to have on this episode, Jeff Sutherland. Jeff is one of the creators of Scrum and a co-writer of the Agile manifesto. Jeff, throughout his career, has been a leading thinker, author, trainer and coach on culture and performance. Jeff has helped many of the largest organisations in our world implement Agile and Scrum to enable them to innovate and scale rapidly.


What a fantastic interview with an amazing person who has given so much to our world. Jeff Sutherland, one of the founders of SCRUM and Agile shares the critical moments in his life that shaped his thinking and helped him learn the skills and approaches resulting in SCRUM. Jeff describes the influence his time at Westpoint Military College played, the impact seeing the US gymnastics team train and coaching he received from an Olympic coach. Jeff talks about his time in Vietnam as a fighter pilot and trainer. He talks about the scale of fire these pilots faced together with the high death rate they were encountering. Jeff describes how he survived over 100 missions and helped others through his training also.

Jeff delves deeply into the creation of the SCRUM, the influences on this, such as his time analysing cancer cell development, his work with Bell Labs and also influences from the time involved with Xerox PARC. Jeff talks about his connection with Ken Schwaber and how they developed and rolled out SCRUM and their resulting involvement with the Agile Manifesto.

Jeff talks passionately about how to achieve sustainability and excellence in SCRUM and Agile. He describes the Shu-ha-ri concept from Marshal Arts and the importance of the Shu phase of mastering the foundations of a skill. Jeff also discusses the leadership approaches of respect for people that he observed in Japan and throughout Lean. Respect for people allows others to contribute to society. Let's watch out for each other, let's help each other, lets help customers. He discusses the power of respect and purpose/vision in creating a successful implementation of SCRUM and Agile.

Jeff talks about where his purpose and approach to open source thinking originated. The meeting with crucial influence; a long-haired man who smelt of marijuana and his conversation about the need for open-source systems that created the open-source approach to software and many elements of the technological world that we know today.

Jeff provides in this interview insights into the evolution of the IT industry and Agile that I have not personally heard before. The talk provided me with unique insights into why and how the industry and SCRUM/Agile evolved to create what we have now.

I continuously feel so blessed and genuinely contented to be able to talk to experts, such as Jeff who inspire me to make a difference in my life. Thank you, Jeff.



10:29 min: You need to practice every day to up your game and no matter how good you are, you’re not there yet and you’re constantly pushing the envelope for years.

15:48 min: Well, this shu-ha-ri in the martial arts? I trained in Akito for many years, but it works in any of the martial arts and the shu state, you're going to do exactly what the sensei says. Okay, so the karate master is going to say, do this move. And if you don't do it, he's going whack you. So, you're going to learn to do that move, and you're not going to get creative until you know how to do the basics.

19:01 min: And, I was just talking with the University of Utah. Around noon Professor you wanted to know what should we tell the students? They want to know what they should do in their careers. They need to figure out what they can really get passionate about. Then they need to figure out what is the talent that they can connect with that passion. And then third, they have to figure out how they can be of service to others, how they can really help a large number of people.

19:35 min: We have a lot of people on these Scrum teams, the only service is to themselves by doing whatever they want, no matter what happens to the team with the customer, right? That is the root of malfunction that is the root of Scrum failure. And we know that 58% of Scrum teams fail because they have developers and managers and leaders who say it's okay for them to stubble?

24:51 min: You have to get your 10,000 hours of focus and discipline in to become great at anything.

25:05 min: It really requires learning the basics, practicing a long time, focus, discipline and that’s one of the challenges about scrum, scrum is a lot more discipline than traditional project management.

59:59 min: In every case where waterfall leadership has been responsible for the agile, long term it has failed.

1:00:09 min: Scrum at scale is really the only framework that focuses on that leadership component and getting them involved in the scrum directly. It’s not enough to have management buy in, that’s not going to help you that much, to have them say, oh it’s ok. You need them to participate in the scrum, then and only then does it actually work.

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