Ever wondered what this Scrum method everybody seems to be talking about is? Well you happen to be lucky, as I run by chance into this conference in which Ken Schwaber, who co-developed this agile process with Jeff Sutherland, introduces it during the Google Tech Days in 2006.
As a former rugby player (thus a sort of a scrum master), my favourite line is in the introduction, where he says Scrum is an event in the game of rugby where people get together and politely discuss ownership of a ball. It might sound fun and weird, but... that's exactly how it happens!
Anyway, one of the best things I've heard is that, even if Scrum takes a lot of ideas from a particular project in which only the best of the best people were involved, Scrum perfectly works with idiots, and that makes everybody a candidate: there are no excuses! Scrum can be used by everyone, and not only for software project. Last weekend my wife was reading me an endless list of things I should have done in the next couple of days and I told her: "Hey! You'd better prioritize it, because there's no way I could possibily get all this stuff done by Sunday evening!". We had a backlog, we had a timeboxed iteration. She acted as a product owner, choosing what I should do; she acted as a scrum master, checking my progresses and shielding me from my kids who wanted to play outside in the garden in which I was tearing the soil; I acted as a team, as the picture shows. We had a Scrum project!
Another very interesting thing is about the transparency of the project: everyone knows where the team is at all times. This can be frightening, because somebody in the upper management can realize they choose a very bad way to spend their money (actually the money of the company) after just a copule of months of a three year project. But this transparency can give you all the informations you need to take the most beneficial decisions for the whole organization. And this happens iteration after iteration!
Last but not least, a note on quality. Sustainable pace is not only advocated in XP, it should be an unbreakable rule. Studies show that increasing work up to 12-14 hours a day can lead to increase defects rate by 60%, and a good team should say no to dropping quality, because it can only bring pain and suffering in the long run.