Dr. Jeff Sutherland invented Scrum to help people make better stuff faster and have a good time doing it. JJ Sutherland is the CEO of Scrum Inc, the leading provider of Scrum training and consulting. He is the author of two of my favorite Scrum books, “T...
Dr. Jeff Sutherland invented Scrum to help people make better stuff faster and have a good time doing it. JJ Sutherland is the CEO of Scrum Inc, the leading provider of Scrum training and consulting. He is the author of two of my favorite Scrum books, “The Scrum Fieldbook: A Masterclass on Accelerating Performance, Getting Results, and Defining the Future” and the red book, “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.” JJ is a worldwide leader in Scrum. He shares how Scrum can be used across industries and has firsthand experience using the framework to help teams deliver faster, much faster.
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Felipe Engineer 0:00
JJ if it wasn't for your voice on the audiobook, I don't know that I would have listened to Scrum or read through it so many more times. But it's always a pleasure to hear your voice.
JJ Sutherland 0:14
Well, thank you.
Felipe Engineer 0:11
-And talk about our favorite subject. One of our favorite subjects, I hope.
JJ Sutherland 0:15
Well, thank you for inviting me Felipe.
Felipe Engineer 0:17
Scrum has been a game changer for me. I started off with reading the red book, and being one of his classes. And since then I've seen you guys, you and him all over the place all over the internet, sharing Scrum with all kinds of industries, like Jeff told me, I was one of his first construction people. And now we've got a whole little pocket of that going worldwide. So just wanted to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Welcome to the EBFC Show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone. Check the show notes for more information. Today's episode is also sponsored by Construction Accelerator. Construction Accelerator is an online learning system for teams and individuals that offer short in depth videos on numerous lean topics for builders and designers to discuss and implement just like on this podcast. This is tangible knowledge at your fingertips in the field, in the office, or at home. Support your lean learning at your own pace, visit trycanow.com. Now to the show!
Before we get too crazy, JJ and get tell people a little bit of who you are.
JJ Sutherland 1:43
Sure. My name is JJ Sutherland. I'm the CEO of Scrum Inc, which is the company founded by my father, Jeff Sutherland, who invented Scrum back in 1993, it was 1994. And we do consulting and training all over the world. And we have, you know, we have scrumming, Japan, we're working in APAC, we're working in Europe. We do interestingly, most of our clients are not software or IT as Felipe, as you said, yeah, we're doing a lot of work in construction. You're one of the leaders in that. And so what I find really interesting, I don't come from a technical background, it's really working with groups of people, and who were just trying to get stuff done. And it doesn't really matter whether you're in software, whether it's construction, whether you're in defense, whether you're an oil and gas, whether you're an automotive doesn't matter. It's just that's what I really like about scrums. It's really a way for just about anybody to just to get stuff done, which is really fascinating to me.
Felipe Engineer 2:45
Thank you, JJ. Appreciate that. And I know you've got a background in journalism. You worked at NPR for a while. And I tried my best to find out through listening to your different interviews and podcasts. And in my research, JJ, I failed to iterate enough to find out when did you learn about Scrum.
JJ Sutherland 3:03
I learned about Scrum back in 2009. I mean, my father obviously been talking about process improvement and all that kind of stuff for decades. And I was covering so I was Baghdad bureau chief for NPR for eight years. And so what I spent half my year in Baghdad, and half my year back in Washington, DC, where NPR is based, and I do various different things. This particular time, I was working as covering the Pentagon. And my editor at the time, asked me Okay, well, we've done all these stories in Iraq about, you know, the strategy and the troops and all that kind of stuff. But, you know, they're like 100 attacks each day in Iraq, on coalition forces, enemies, a lot of blown up Humvees, guys, what happens to all those Humvees? And I said, I don't know. Let me find out. And the happens is they end up at the Red River Army Depot, just outside of Texarkana, Texas and East Texas. And if you've never been to East Texas, there's a whole lot of nothing in these Texas, but you've been to East Texas, you'd say, you know,
Felipe Engineer 4:09
Alot of family there. Yeah.
JJ Sutherland 4:10
Oh, and so it's a it's a lovely area, but that is gigantic area. And so this army was a few 1000 jobs. It's like the economic engine of its area. And there's only one person in uniform at this place. The colonel in charge everyone else's civilian workforce, you know, unionized labor, all that stuff. And when the war started in 2003, this depot could fix three Humvees a week and you're getting 100 attacks a day. Three Humvees a week is not going to cut it. And so the Pentagon was actually going to outsource shut it down. outsource at Oshkosh, call it a day. And so the colonel didn't want that to happen. I mean, this is a 1000s of jobs in an area that really needs jobs. And so he went to Ford and GM and said, "Well, how do you do it?" and what he did is over the course of 18 months, he installed a lean construction line and lean production line, which comes out of the Toyota Production System. It's just magical. So I went and I saw it. And it was just like the, the other parts would sort of float through the air and just come right when the worker needed it to put on the door. And it was magical. And then they also instead of fixing the Humvees, they decided to take all them, take them all apart. And listen, you go there, they're blown up Humvees as far as I can see, under trees and fields just everywhere. What they did is they took them apart down to the last nut and bolt and built new ones, I looked at pieces, because that was faster. And over the course of about 18 months, they went from doing well to do three a week to 40 a day.
Felipe Engineer 5:47
Oh my God, that's amazing JJ.
JJ Sutherland 5:50
And it was the same people.
Felipe Engineer 5:54
Even more impressive.
JJ Sutherland 5:58
And so that blew my mind. And so I went call my father from the motel in Texarkana where I was staying. And I then said, okay, maybe this process improvement thing, you're onto something. And so I went, and I took a scrum master course from him. And then I went back to Baghdad. And I started doing bits and pieces. And I did like a standard daily stand up. You know, I did, you know, made work visible. I put up a big board where the state of all the stories are. And then I but I didn't do you know, full on Scrum. I didn't do that until 2011 when the Arab Spring happened. And the Arab Spring, started in January, reached Cairo in January that year. And when it started, we didn't know how big the story is, like a Friday think we didn't know how big the story was going to be. And so we didn't send a whole bunch of people in we sent the drew some correspondent to work with a Cairo correspondent to start the story. And you probably know, broadcasts or can surmise anyway, broadcast correspondents don't play well together.
Felipe Engineer 7:08
Because they have seen some movies and they, yeah, they seem to have some rivalry.
JJ Sutherland 7:14
There's real competition. There's only so many minutes of our time, right. So they fought all weekend. And they blew deadlines. They didn't get it the story out. And so on Sunday, they called me and said, JJ, we want you to go fix this. So we're gonna fly in. And we're gonna send three more correspondences turns out to be a really big story. And so I flew there, and it was the middle of the night, there's dust on curfew sitting in baggage claim. This is the only way I think I can do this with Scrum. But I'm not going to you can't use any of the words because there's no management, you know, garbage, no journalists.
Felipe Engineer 7:53
JJ Sutherland 7:54
We don't need a proscess!
And put up, literally just took out Post Its and said, what's the most important thing we have to do today? Okay, we need to live it from there. What's most important, that's the next most important thing made it visible. We had a scrum board. We did you know, retrospectives, you know, twice a day, we're doing 12 hour sprints, because we have a morning show and an evening show. And then what are the what are the things slowing us down? It could be anything from Oh, we need, you know, better hit on the satellite to you know, at one point, whatever correspondence was picked up by the Mukhabarat the secret police, they're like, yeah, that's slowing us down, because you want us in jail. So you can get them out of jail.
Felipe Engineer 8:31
Yea, he was put in jail, put that on his resume.
JJ Sutherland 8:36
So it was amazing. And it was just this sort of fractious group of individuals became a team so quickly. That blew my mind. And that later on that year, is when I said to my father, let's let's write a book.
Felipe Engineer 8:48
No, no, I'm so glad that you had to have that horrible experience, JJ, because I never would have come across it like and I was dabbling in the lean construction, lean space, studying everything I could, after somebody a decade ago, told me that there's Felipe there's another way to build and I was like, that sounds too good to be true. And then got involved. And it was because I was reading all these books about Lean, that Amazon company we both know, made a recommendation and recommended your book to me. And I said, Well, this is an interesting read cover. It's like danger. It's a danger cover. It caught my eye JJ. And, man I devoured it, like in less than three days. At that time, I had a really long commute. So I can I nearly finished the book and just to back and forth. Driving from Orange County in California to LA County. The traffic of brutal commute
JJ Sutherland 9:42
that's brutal commute. I lived in LA.
Felipe Engineer 9:45
It's legendary traffic. I'd always be looking at the math mystified, like it's just 50 miles. Why did it take three hours today? It doesn't even seem real. But it was so long. JJ had to start, you know, deciding when to stop drinking liquid So that I can make it all the way without having to go to the bathroom.
JJ Sutherland 10:04
Wow. Brutal man.
Felipe Engineer 10:07
But know your your book and in the way you tell it. It's, it's so impactful. And I'm a huge history fanatic I love to study, the reason how things came together and and you guys tell such a good story. And in the scrum field book, the book that you wrote recently, when did that get published?
JJ Sutherland 10:25
In the fall of 2019.
Felipe Engineer 10:28
Yeah. So I mean, it's just a year ago. Yeah. So before COVID. Nice. Yeah. And I really like it in the, in this book. And I think it's a great second book to, to build upon the Red Book. Because you've given all these stories. And now it's in so many different places where it's way beyond software, which it's always been, but a lot of people don't realize that it's just software was the first group of people I think, to coalesce around Scrum. And then now other groups, you give all these examples, and I wanted to ask you, as a follow on question, like I know that Scrum is older than agile, hands down undeniable. He all the signers of the Agile Manifesto have not typically acknowledged it in their speeches. But what from agile have the core principles is the most important to you? I'm going to I'm going to test you on your ability to prioritize of the four values which one do you find the most important,
JJ Sutherland 11:21
Its responding to change over following a plan. Without a question. I think we've learned that this past year, that, you know, we can have a lot of plans. I mean, I had a lot of plans in January of this year, I had a lot of plans. And I March, all of those went out the window. And and I think, in my experience and talking to my clients and talking to people who do Scrum, that the agile, people were practicing agile with a scrum or other verse made Scrum is like 75 77% of all agile teams use Scrum. But those teams that were agile had a much easier time switching to remote quickly. I know we did overnight. Saturday, when my the product owner of our public courses, and she and I called each other saying we have a course on Tuesday that we cannot run. It's irresponsible. And I said yep, but we're going to do it virtually. And she said, but it's Saturday, we're going on Tuesday, it's gonna be horrible. I said, Listen, the first 10 of these are going to be horrible. But let's get let's get them out of the way as fast as possible.
Felipe Engineer 12:30
Let's fail fast and learn.
JJ Sutherland 12:32
Exactly. So we did. And I have no, I've heard that story, that similar kind of story of just being able to really just flip a switch from a number of different agile teams that I worked with. And so that is also the other thing about responding to change is that it allows this ability to adapt quickly. And as there's this classic, you know, line, you know, it's not, I'm gonna misquote it here. It's not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. And I think we've seen that over this past year. And we see what I was talking about that there's, you know, a technological curve, you know, this sort of hyperbolic technological curve, which is causing all sorts of change in all areas of our society in our culture. And it's, you know, so fast that we can't even see the rate of the rate of change. But if you look at COVID infections in the United States, that's a hyperbolic curve. And we're in the midst of that, and be able to adjust to that pace of change, I think, is really difficult without some sort of Agile practice.
Felipe Engineer 13:39
Yeah, at the time of this recording, for those of you listening later, trying to try to listen in order of the shows the shows don't have an order people, you just watch them in any order. You want. The we're in December of 2020. We're having a surge in COVID cases, the United States unprecedented. And I think we're beyond the prediction models that we saw early in March. And April.
JJ Sutherland 13:59
It's horrible. It's really horrible. What's going on
Felipe Engineer 14:02
that horribleness that you talked about, and that responding to change. I appreciate that. That's your answer. I have no presupposition of what I thought which one you go to JJ. So it was a nice surprise. I left myself open for the surprise. I really liked that one, too. And it's one of my favorites of the four as well. But I wanted to ask you with, you know, with that being the case, in your book, you talked about something that I didn't think would be in your book, I was completely taken aback by what you talked about in fear. And I'm not going to ask you for your, your canned fear answer because it's in the book and people should definitely pick it up and read it. But when you talk about the fear that people have, and the research that you had from the the doctor, I'm forgetting his name that looked at how people revert back and becoming this downloading state. Yeah. That I mean, even you even me, I'm just guilty too. Like, I wouldn't have adopted Scrum unless I was getting crushed at work. And that's That's why I made it easy for me to adopt it because my back was against the wall, I was in the corner. And you, you went, you had that experience in Texas, that you're like, finally you're like, Alright, dad, you've been talking about this forever. I'm ready to listen. Now I've seen something. Right? That fear to change, I think is, is worth talking about for a second, because you guys are working with from, from what I can see sometimes even fortune 10 companies, the fortune 100, fortune 200, you're dealing with what everybody would consider a successful company by all stretches the imagination, until you start to dig in. And I love the way that you and your dad dig into stuff. And you really know what is working and what's not. What are you seeing with with these large, successful companies, as far as fear inside of these organizations, if you could share just a couple stories, that'd be awesome, just for people listening, that are like on the fence, like should I even bother reading 12 pages of the updated Scrum guide? This is something for my organization. I mean, I'm biased. And I say yes, it is. And listen to JJ, I completely agree.
JJ Sutherland 16:05
So what's happening is there's a lot of fear out there because the world is changing. There is bank, European Bank, like one of the biggest banks on the planet, you know, trillions of dollars under management. And they called me up and I said, Well, why are you calling me you have all the money, all the money? And they said, Well, nobody wants to work for us. No one wants to work for us. We can't get talent. And we're having these little finance FinTech startups come and slice bits and pieces of the value chain. But another bank, Deutsche Telekom, was telling my father around the same time that Amazon went in to Germany and started making personal loans, your small 510 $1,000 loans, six Deutsche Bank, like three weeks to approve those took Amazon three seconds. Wow. And this just makes sense. You know, we've lost that business forever. But what if I do that to mortgages, where our real money is, I think that the a lot of these really large companies are afraid of being disrupted. I think what really the one that really scared them was Airbnb disrupting the hotel industry, you know, multi, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars in real estate all of a sudden, doesn't matter. Like it's complete disruption. I think that's one that I hear a lot about people being frightened about, they see the speed at which sort of the tech giants of Amazon and Google and Apple etc, are doing it. And they're really worried about some of those just completely taking away their business. I mean, Amazon is scary. You know, the, like most tech companies can release, you know, once every couple weeks, like software companies, you know, a couple of compute some can do it every day. Amazon does it more than once a second. And, you know, Amazon's not a perfect company, by any stretch of the imagination, not sure if I want to work there, but they're fast. They're really fast. And so with that kind of speed, and like there's about a couple years ago, when they said, Oh, we might get into the healthcare, or the pharmacy market, and you think, you know, the past couple years, all these massive multibillion dollar healthcare mergers. That's because they're afraid because this technological disruption is really, really changing things forever, it's going to continue to change things at a more faster rate. I mean, it's just amazing. And you know, like, deep mind, the other day just figured out protein folding, so many people have been trying to do is a massive AI, Google AI project that people are trying to figure out for 50 years. DeepMind also does the go, that's one of the things that becomes the go master. And they finally got it. So the latest version, I was reading an interview with the CEO, became the best go player on the planet really, really quickly. And the reason was, is it stopped learning for humans. It was freed from humans learning. So it taught itself. And so that kind of stuff is going on. And it's just remarkable.
Felipe Engineer 18:55
It's like you said in the book, JJ, like, every day we go to sleep, and we wake up and rebuy decision, we recreate our organizations all over again. And now you've got a non sleeping entity just iterating all night, 24 hours a day.
JJ Sutherland 19:10
You're a buddy of mine who's speaking AI said, Yo, what are you afraid of videos? I'm really afraid there'll be a strong AI that is really just obsessed with making more and more perfect spheres and will enslave the entire human race.
Felipe Engineer 19:27
That's a valid fear. I'm watching those sci fi to
JJ Sutherland 19:32
Universal paperclips I highly recommend. No I play the game. And basically you're in a play an AI whose entire purpose in life is to make paperclips.
Felipe Engineer 19:42
We'll have to give a link to that in the description. JJ for people that want to play some great Yeah, but that's awesome. I want to pull on a on another thread. Your organization at Scrum Inc and your you know your Are you like what's the outside the To the rest of the world, you're the CEO of Scrum Incorporated. But inside the company, what's your title? Well, let me ask you this way. Jason, what role Are you playing inside the company?
JJ Sutherland 20:08
I'm a team member. Nice. I don't have time to be a product owner. I'm a Product Owner, then, you know, some of the chief product owners report to me, but I'm more of a stakeholder. I mean, I say, you know, these, this is the big level strategy and prioritization, you go figure out how to do it. But yeah, I'm just a team member, which is most important role in Scrum.
Felipe Engineer 20:29
Right on. Right. And I like that you're, you're consistent use of the team member, not developer, or not development team member,
JJ Sutherland 20:37
I prefer the term team member. But you know, I'm not Jeff and Ken. So
they get to say,
but yeah, the new Scrum guide would be a developer, but I prefer team member
Felipe Engineer 20:46
Jeff and Ken have said before, like, the names are not so awesome that you have to use exactly these but you need to have the function roles. Like we've seen that and Edu Scrum and, and other adaptations of the system. So that's cool.
JJ Sutherland 21:01
And I was freaked my consultants out who are pretty much their purist, right, you know, they really want not like, I don't care what turns
Felipe Engineer 21:09
You have a lot of things like this, JJ, we're, you know, new paradigms of thinking start to become a little culty. Yeah. And then you can have people becoming like holding up the, you know, this is this is the only way, the only way and this is the only way we're gonna have adaptation. No, there are many ways.
JJ Sutherland 21:26
No, yeah, people who are, you know, religious purists of it, I just drive me crazy. It's, you know, because what happens is, they're doing Scrum, to do Scrum not to do get something done or to solve a problem. And that's the whole point. It's not to do Scrum. It's not to be agile, it's to solve problems, to provide solutions deliver value, deliver,
Felipe Engineer 21:49
exactly, it's like, we have the same thing. And in the 90s, the same time that Scrum was coming out 1983 1994, another group of people out of Berkeley were studying scheduling in the construction industry. And they developed this system called the last planner system of production controls, which is also a pull system, which also limits work in progress and, and people today, fast forward, it's been over 20 years, it's almost as old as Scrum. I think it came out in 95. There are people that I bumped into in our industry. And this is like a fringe thing to like, agile practice, it's not widespread. And they'll say like, Dude, are you a purist in the system? Or do you just phoned it in? Or like, Where are you in this, and they're always trying to figure out like, you do it by the book. And then by the book, when it came out in the 90s, the people that wrote it had given examples, and it's become like a cargo cult. One of the examples that they gave was they gave the spreadsheet to do a short term schedule. So everybody thinks that when they're in this part of the framework, they have to have a spreadsheet. And this is totally not true. It's it turns into a carnival called founder. Now one of the founders is still alive and and he's like, I'm so past that, like, I don't know why people do it. And then it's what you know, you talk about in your book of like, the rules like it when you were at NPR, and you wanted to have two shows back to back.
JJ Sutherland 23:11
So I was down running Morning Edition, because like when I was when I was in Baghdad, I was sort of a fix it guy, and NPR reported to the CEO, and he would descend me around to fix things. And so this morning, I was having some problems. And so I went down there to produce the show that morning. And the first morning, I was there. And there was I wanted to do two interviews in a row, we called two ways. And the Morning Edition staff, which was kind of resented me because I was the FIX IT guy. JJ, you just don't get Morning Edition. We can never do two interviews, right, we have to have an interview, and then a produced piece, because that's just the sound. That's who we are, JJ. You know, you don't get it. That's what our listeners expect. And I say, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. And I know JT Look, it's really pulled a three ring binder off the shelf, and say, See, it's written down right here. And it was I was like, I'm gonna let you people get away with this today. But I'm going to find out who wrote that rule. It took me like three or four days to track down this kind of Jay Curtis, who was the first executive producer of morning addition back in 1978. And this is like 2004 2005. And I said, Jay, what's with this rule? It was Oh, JJ, the reel to reel tape machines couldn't rewind fast enough. So we had to make sure that we spaced these things that we haven't used reel to reel tape machines, and like, I don't know, 15 years. But they've internalized the rule and made it something that it wasn't and it said, Oh, it's part of us, rather than realizing it's just a rule rules, say a lot rules have to fight for their lives, because rules are usually in organizations. Something went wrong. And I said, well, let's make sure that doesn't happen again, and they come up with a rule that is completely appropriate for that time, right? It's like oh, wow, we really don't want to get fined by the SEC. $100 million. Again, let's put a rule into place But then you're 20 years later, everyone's still doing the rule. And it doesn't matter anymore. It makes no sense.
Felipe Engineer 25:03
JJ Sutherland 25:04
we're letting the rule set when we're laying the robots when rather than, you know, actually applying critical thinking people are following the rules instead of listening to each other. Yeah, we're
Felipe Engineer 25:13
letting the rules dictate to us. I think it was. It was almost poetic. JJ. In the book where you talked about in the scrum field book, you said you when you don't prioritize and, and be clear on why you're doing things, you're letting the most entry level junior person make the decision, because they're not getting the direction from the organization. And you're just gambling on what they're gonna do. Yeah, that's
JJ Sutherland 25:35
what everything's top priority. Nothing's top writers so that people get to pick what to work on.
It'd be like,
Okay, well, you know, we have 10 top priorities, which makes absolutely no sense. Because who the word are in the book that I've looked into it. So the word priority comes from the, through the French, but originally from the Latin priority, which means it comes before. And so prior keys with an S wasn't even a word until the 1940s? Because it makes no sense.
Felipe Engineer 25:58
You can't have more than one. Yeah, and we can only do one thing at a time. Yeah,
JJ Sutherland 26:01
yeah. multitasking is a total myth.
Felipe Engineer 26:03
Yeah. Like, as we're talking right now, I've got like three panels of stuff on my screen. And if I, if I look at anywhere besides you, it all goes, it all falls apart on my side.
JJ Sutherland 26:14
No, and you know, I am jealous of my children who have you know, obviously, you know, mastered zoom in this. But they are like doing video and they're in the chat. And unless I do a lot of video these days, I cannot do that. Because I just lose completely lose. They seem to be able to do it.
Felipe Engineer 26:33
I've been to a lot of virtual conferences. This year, we just close down Scrum gathering Brazil, and people were messaging in the chat, you can kind of get a feel I've been to enough conferences this year, JJ, because of COVID. Virtually that you can get it you can get a flavor for how old people are based on how heavy the jackets used. Yeah, the the younger the group, the heavier the chat. People are chatting while the presentations are happening live. And then occasionally, you'll get older people saying in the chat, like it's distracting. Like, it's so distracting to them that they have to write it down. They're distracted. Like, Please, everybody stop chatting, and just watch the show. Like,
JJ Sutherland 27:11
yeah, you can maximize
Felipe Engineer 27:12
your screen. Don't look at.
JJ Sutherland 27:15
Yeah, I'm definitely I'm old. But you know, I mean, I see the chat is I mean, obviously, people get value from it. So
Felipe Engineer 27:24
I've been to some of your meetings at Scrum Inc. And there's always a contingent of people in the zoom chat messaging constantly. And I'm having to watch like, you know, when you get, I think when you get beyond 12 people, it's almost impossible to pay attention. I'm really glad that in the in the updates to zoom they created some of the other platforms have to or you can move the tiles at least if you're in gallery view, you can then like, I'm going to keep the person who's going to speak the most and the one place so I know where they are.
JJ Sutherland 27:51
Exactly, exactly. No, I do that all the time, I'd love to be able to move the tiles because otherwise around the screen, you know, because I have a screen. And so I can look over here I'm looking at the screen, you know, but
Felipe Engineer 28:02
it doesn't look like you are on location somewhere earlier this year. And we did the product owner class and you had a whiteboard or a flip chart behind you and you seem to be like myself, I love the tangible.
JJ Sutherland 28:15
Let me see my camera. See there's my Scrum board over there. It's on my door, fam. do right now.
Felipe Engineer 28:20
A lot of people always ask JJ when they're when they're coming to the system right away before they even know what Scrum is before they can even tell you what 353 means. They say what's the best digital solution for Scrum? Oh, you do get that question
JJ Sutherland 28:33
all the time. And I have my standard answers. They all suck. They also and also for the same reason why Listen, you got to have a tool these days, but you have to go look for it you want is an information radiator where you don't have to go open up your laptop or open the computer and go to a browser. So what I actually do is I replicate my electronic board physically, then I can actually see like electronic boards I Oh, wow, I go in a day later. It's like, Oh, I did do that. So but it's like the work isn't as visible as I was, I would like it to be I also say I really highly recommend figuring out what your processes with the simplest thing possible, like use a spreadsheet or something, and then figure out what tool matches the way you work rather than wrapping yourself around the axle to match the way the tool sets, you should work because I see that all the time. Well, JIRA says we have to do this. This is like, why are you letting the robots dictate to you? It's like, do what works for you. And so like it's at Scrum Inc., we you know, at the moment, we don't have a common tool because different teams have different needs, they have to be visible. And you have to be able to spit out a CSV file so that we can do some analysis but on that use whatever tool you want.
Felipe Engineer 29:40
Yeah, that's lovely. This is this freedom to the people right there. JJ, though there is need to standardize the tool. I don't know. I'll let the teams figure decide that they really want to standardize the tools. A lot of software companies love the proposition of being bought by the larger company, you know, like it's only they're counting down the days until Oracle makes them an offer. Autodesk
JJ Sutherland 30:00
just bought slack the other day for like $20 billion,
something like that Salesforce.
Felipe Engineer 30:04
Yeah, I was like, when I saw that I almost didn't even believe that it was real. Like what? I was like, why would they even for sale?
JJ Sutherland 30:12
At $20 million? Everyone's for sale?
Felipe Engineer 30:20
JJ Sutherland 30:21
me $28 billion was coming. I mean, I'd have to seriously consider.
Felipe Engineer 30:27
You'd have to sit down at least think twice, right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's a number of So hi, JJ. I can't even think about it right now.
JJ Sutherland 30:36
That's like one of those numbers that the human mind cannot really wrap their heads around.
Felipe Engineer 30:40
That's incredible. And, yeah, I use a tool that was built by the developers use Scrum to build it, which is Trello, which eventually got bought by Atlassian, which also uses Scrum, which is awesome, too, which also makes euro, right? Yeah, they do. And it's a little bit of competition there. For the two it's like, you know, one's like heavy duty developer tool, get your process down first, and then find the tool like you do. I do the same thing. People always get annoyed, like, but we know you use Trello. Like, yeah, but I don't tell people, you should just use it. There are reasons why I use it might not work for you.
JJ Sutherland 31:17
I use Pivotal Tracker, which is pretty, you know, it's not quite as lightweight as Trello. But it's pretty lightweight. And it's fine. You know, it works. A lot of the consulting teams use JIRA, because a lot of our clients use JIRA. And so they're like, we want to be in the environment that our customers are in. Some of them use leankit. Some of them use there's a Microsoft as your tool. That some some of them. planner. Yeah, yeah. And then there's
Felipe Engineer 31:53
Mondays, which is always like, they're the sweetest name like Mondays. Are they I first saw the that advertisement, I'd get emails, I get emails like every day, like, hey, check out this tool. Oh, yeah, I've already got the boilerplate response, because it's like the 55th email, but breno keep them coming. People keep sending my way like this cool to see the new stuff coming out like Mondays that I see it as it is now. From when I looked at it a couple years ago, it's radically different. So it's cool to see these different companies innovating.
JJ Sutherland 32:25
Yeah, well, they're, you know, they're iterating towards a better, better product.
Felipe Engineer 32:27
Thank you for sharing your transformational moment when you finally were like, Alright, I'm going to listen, what is the scrum thing, and it transformed for you. A lot of people listening, especially in the design construction industry where waste is, depending on who you ask, what survey you read, it could be anywhere from 50% of what you do is non value added to the customer all the way up to 80%. So it's sometimes it's more valuable if people just didn't even come to work. Yeah, based on from the clients perspective, not saying that these smart people aren't doing things intentionally. They're not they're a function of the system in the structure that they're in. But, JJ, I'd love with all of your experience, all the companies, you work with all the successes, what would you tell somebody who's watching this or listening, that they're frustrated in their work? What advice would you give to them?
JJ Sutherland 33:13
The first thing is prioritize, don't try to do everything at once. And you don't have to ask permission. You know it's like, what's the most important thing, get that to done, and then go on to the next thing. And of course, you want to have bite sized pieces you don't want Okay, this was for things that took me six months, you want to take a week or two? Yeah, it was like, Oh, well, we have to have a six month plan. It's like, well, maybe you do, but what are you gonna do tomorrow to get you closer? And what's the most important thing? And how do you get feedback? To know that you're right, prioritization, rapid feedback, that's those are the really the most important things. Because I see people spend six months a year, you know, working on something, and no one actually wants it. By the time they're done. They want this rapid feedback and prioritization and in construction, you know, you know, that industry and I know only as an observer of, you know, people building highway overpasses and wondering why so long. You know, why does it take five years, I'm sure there's good reasons. But
Felipe Engineer 34:11
a lot of waiting. It's a lot of waiting, a lot of waiting, a
JJ Sutherland 34:14
lot of waiting. And so like one industry working with oil and gas. And what I've learned about oil extraction and gas extraction is it's a lot of waiting. And it's basically can you get the right people in the right equipment at the right times. And then a colleague of mine is getting five shorts done in Colombia is working with a gas company, you know, they're extracting from this gas field. And they were really they said to me, like 18 days was sort of like their average for drilling any well, and the fastest they'd ever done. It was like 10 days or something like that. And by just prioritizing and making everything transparent, where everything is, then went from 18 days to average of six days.
Felipe Engineer 34:54
Incredible. Three times faster,
JJ Sutherland 34:56
because there was wait times how can we get those wait times down? And it wasn't they didn't invent any new technology. They didn't it was just looking at the wait times and saying, Where can we cut down? The wait times?
Felipe Engineer 35:08
Thank you for that. JJ Have you had people come to you because if you've worked with organizations for a little bit, it takes time for the learning to, to sink in and people to get the repetitions. I think Joe, you know, he shared a story about bringing people into a garage, and he was teaching Scrum by having people build a car, like some plane engineers, at some point. It could have been a sob story probably was a sob story. So the the avionics group that makes airplanes, but can you think of any stories, JJ, where people came to you after they'd work with your company for a little bit? What kind of things that they tell you? What kind of feedback Do you get Do you guys get from these big companies like the bank, or some of the other non software companies,
JJ Sutherland 35:48
the feedback I get is surprised at how effective it is and how quickly it is. That is what I really get. It's the realization that they were trapped in a system of their own making. And it was a choice they could make to work differently. And they could have huge impact incredibly quickly. Because that's one of the really great things about Scrum is because, you know, it's not just construction. 80% waste, it's just about everywhere. And but if you just remove the stop some of the stupid stuff, like everyone knows, we should prioritize, we should focus, we should not get distracted, we should. Everyone knows that that's a better way to work. Right? Everyone knows it, but they don't do it. What Scrum does is give you a framework that allows you to do it, and it takes discipline. It's not easy. But very quickly, you can get results very quickly. And that's what really impresses me. And I think that's what I hear from my clients and people I've talked to is if if you do it and you're disciplined about it, you're committed to it, you can get dramatic results. Very, very fast.
Felipe Engineer 36:54
Within months does incredible surprise, I'm surprised at the surprise. And JJ, I love what you said to Just now you said you don't have to ask permission. So for everybody out there that's working in any kind of organization, even if a family like my family knows that we do anything. In my mind invisibly, I'm using the scrum framework for all the things we do all the time. I don't want to use other methodologies. I'm still bringing in what I know, from Scrum and following that process because it is so doggone reliable. It works every time. So I always tell Jeff, like, Jeff, I'm trying to find where it doesn't work and everything. And when I work with teams, especially the more skeptical teams, I always tell them like it's worked every time so far. I'm excited that you might be the first team that doesn't work with. But they always disappoint me, JJ, it always works.
JJ Sutherland 37:48
No, I used to tell people, it works everywhere. But now I don't do that. Because people like Oh, and I said, Listen, if you find a place that doesn't work, call me. And I will come and write a paper about it.
Felipe Engineer 38:02
Yeah, we've had a lot of people writing you and the traditional and I came up and I got my project management professional certificate, I studied the the 12 areas of project management and sat down for a four hour test and had to study for months to this way. I'm like, wow, do projects really organized this way? The answer is No, they don't. They don't actually do all 12 of those functions that are each like a book long. But I still maintain the credential JJ because there's been a shift even in project management circles to become more agile, and there is quite a few people, quite a few pmps that are writing about talking about and using Scrum every day, and project management around the world in many different industries. But what I wanted to ask you is with with all of that, you still get these people in, you know, holding on to the old way. And the old way was on project management as a profession has only been around in the last 100 years. It didn't the profession didn't exist in the 1800s. It's it's new, but people are holding on to it like it's been here forever. And I just saw someone had wrote, this has happened to me twice this year. JJ, I want to know, does this happen to you? Someone wrote a paper about these traditional methods. And one of the people that read the paper, who knew the author tagged me in and said, Hey, what do you think, Felipe? And then they got us so that we were having a debate on LinkedIn, about this traditional method. And the person in their paper had just talked all kinds of smack on. Agile is garbage. It's a fad, it's going to disappear. Nobody actually does Scrum. People that defend Scrum always just reference you back to the scrum guide. And they don't tell you how they actually do it. We went back and forth. And if anyone's listening, they want to find those posts. I'll point you to it. But I want to ask you, JJ, because you have an entire organization dedicated to Scrum. Do you guys get pulled into fights like that online?
JJ Sutherland 40:01
I try not to because you know, like, you're the sort of the standard, my standard belief is, you know, don't feed the trolls.
It's like, Hey, man, if that's working for you, fantastic. If you're getting all the value you want, if you're delivering value more quickly, your customers are happy and your projects are successful. Awesome. Keep doing that. If it's working, you know, why bother? The thing is, it's not a theoretical debate. This is what gets me. You know, I'm not interested in debating theory. I'm interested in debating reality. Because, you know, that's what, that's what actually is. It's, you know, okay, well, we took this project and became better. And we've extracted out into a framework that can be applied everywhere. But apply it, try it. And if it doesn't work, don't do it. I saw this speech by one of our, one of our leaders, one of our clients, the beginning, and it was really amazing as we're going to try this. For seven sprints, we're going to do all in. And if it doesn't work, we'll just go back to the way we were doing things. But we're gonna try it for seven sprints. They're doing week long sprints. And they did and you know what, it was hard for them. But at the end of the seven Sprint's said, Do we want to keep going? Like, absolutely, there's no way we could ever go back, can't go back, can't go back. And it's if, if traditional project managers work for, it's something that never works? Of course it does. Otherwise people wouldn't do it. In my experience, you're going to get better results using Scrum. That's my experience. Your mileage may vary. But I would encourage you to try try and experiment just to see rather than insisting on Well, there's this theoretical thing in my mind about how to do project management. Listen, I've never gotten a PMP. I don't even know what those 12 areas are, it strikes me as ludicrous. But I'm much more interested in what actually happens. Then, in theory,
Felipe Engineer 42:02
that's how I learned my lesson after the first one I came at it with, I don't know something here. I didn't know who the person was. So I came open and said, Tell me and I the first question I asked about what kind of results are you getting typically using your system? They deflected, deflected, deflected, never gave an answer. And I said, Okay, I'm actually a PMP. Like I studied, I passed, I practiced, I continued to do the education. But then I use this agile method called Scrum, even before there is a thing called agile. And I've only been using it with these hands, getting dirty with it for seven years. And I said, it's always worked, we always deliver faster, we beat all the schedules that all the Gantt charts that people create, we sail past those, it's incredible, like how much faster we sail past those. And there's like, let's just talk about what are you getting? What are you not getting? I don't tell people like, you don't have to do Scrum. You don't have to? If what you're doing is working. Tell me about it. I want to know to you know, how can what can we bring in to the super lightweight framework, you can still be successful, while your clients and then keep your people engaged. I think that's the the magic trick that a lot of companies are struggling with is that employee engagement and teams that have as soon as you touch Scrum. I haven't really seen people like, back away from it even in our organization, except one time. One time people had to back away from it. And they were had nothing to do with the customers. It had to do with other things called ego. Yeah.
JJ Sutherland 43:42
Human dynamics are real.
Felipe Engineer 43:43
They're real. They're real.
JJ Sutherland 43:45
And change is hard.
And people were talking about earlier people are afraid. No, people are afraid. And you know what, it's a completely rational fear.
Felipe Engineer 43:59
JJ Sutherland 44:00
and moving through fear into trying to do something new. That's tough. The human nature is not to do that. You know, you're afraid as we were talking about earlier, the Otto Sharma is the the professor at MIT Sloan. There we go. And, you know, you just go and you download, you go back to old habits. Because you're afraid. Of course, you're and then to go into the future to be a leader saying, okay, we're gonna do something new. And I don't know what the ultimate destination is, but I can see it in the midst. That's hard. And that takes bravery.
Felipe Engineer 44:38
I remember JJ when when I started doing this, I had to have a talk and executive sat me down and told me that, you know, this could negatively affect your career. Are you sure you want to do this? And I said, I can't do it the other way anymore. It's killing me. So even though I was afraid, I was like, I'd rather jump into the unknown or like, so many people say get as close to chaos and creativity as I can. Because it's just a it's way more exciting like, Oh, I could get fired today. And I remember your dad actually told me, JJ. He said, when he first when he met me in 2016, he said, Felipe, are you aware that you could be fired? I was like, you don't Jeff, I actually hadn't thought about it. And we were already like a couple glasses of wine deep. So I was feeling like liquid courage, brave. And I said, it doesn't matter if I get fired.
JJ Sutherland 45:37
What your family say?
Felipe Engineer 45:39
And then later, my wife and my son had a strong opinion about Do I need to have a job? And the answer is yes. And I still have. I told Jeff when I saw him again this year, haven't been fired yet, Jeff. But it's still early today.
JJ Sutherland 45:58
Yeah, I mean, listen, it could be getting fired sucks. But, you know, life's too short. To work into some sort of soul killing. Life is just too short. And trust me if you're a scrum master, there are a lot of jobs out there. Scrum masters. There are a lot of jobs out there.
Felipe Engineer 46:18
It's incredible how you this this framework idea created an entire industry that didn't exist. I mean, there are, I remember when I went to the training, and there are people there, that their job was Scrum Master. I was just thinking like, how could this be a full time job. And now today, you've got, you know, product owners out there. You've got Scrum masters, and you always gonna have people on the team. Somebody's got to do the work. scrummasters Hey, everybody, Scrum masters work in Scrum mastering is hard. Yeah, it is not an easy job. And there's a lot of people look at Scrum masters like, well, they don't actually do anything like you have no idea. I have sometimes I share with the teams. You know what a scrum master does to sometimes protect the team so that they can actually work? Yeah, it's a very dangerous place to be in.
JJ Sutherland 47:11
Yeah, Scrum masters, you know, they're the people who can get fired. They frustrate people. Yeah, they ask
Felipe Engineer 47:17
lots of questions. And they make work visible. And they reduce hierarchy. I mean, it's something they don't like a lot of people, JJ. A lot of people don't like, I've been kicked off of so many different initiatives over the years. Because we start getting a certain way and having all the success, and it's the team success. I always tell people, like, you know, if we do something, and as successful as yours, cuz you guys did the work, I, I'm very clear on the three roles. And I know what my job is, I'll take, I'll take the brunt of it. I'm a big guy. I'll take the abuse from management. I'm happy to do that. I'm good. We're all on a first name basis, you know, and the same with the clients do, how have clients responded to? Like, have you heard any feedback? Because you're in an organization helping them? Do you? Do they ever share with you what their clients tell them? Like the before and after type of conversation? Sure.
JJ Sutherland 48:13
Listen, I mean, where I interact with corporations, right now, it's at a pretty high level, right? at the executive level of the C suite level, often. And those people don't care about Scrum. They care about getting stuff done. Because that's what they're on the hook for. And, oh, getting more stuff done. I'm in do Scrum to do Scrum. Who cares? Who cares? And that's the selling point is not, hey, it's not even here, you're gonna have more engaged people, they want to have more engaged people. Because they'll get more stuff done. You know, they want results. And they get results by having happy, engaged people. Focus, prioritization. And that's what they care about. And that's what they find because they say, oh, because we are able to deliver value to our organization and to our customers. We're getting more things done, and we're getting more value, and we're getting feedback that we're doing the right thing. And by doing and that's what they care about. This results. Right on.
Felipe Engineer 49:18
Yeah, like that, JJ. That's a perfect close. I want to respect your time. You know, thank you so much, JJ, you're gonna have to come back on the show again, cuz there's, like 30 more questions to ask. This is really fun. Thanks for inviting me today. Yeah. No, thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day, JJ. I'm gonna finish the book, and then use that as my precipice to harass you again and get you back on here. And we're gonna go deeper into fear next time. Okay. Yeah,
JJ Sutherland 49:47
I have a lot of thoughts on that one.
Felipe Engineer 49:50
No, you do. Very Special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer-Manriquez. The EBFC show is created by Felipe and produced by a passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe everybody. Let's go build.