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Excitement Builds as Scrum Gathering Seattle 2011 Draws Near

04/26/2011 by Lisa Hoover

Excitement is building as Scrum Gathering Seattle 2011 draws near. Community members are talking about it on Facebook and Twitter, while the session leaders and keynote speakers put the finishing touches on their presentations. A big turnout is expected at the Grand Hyatt Seattle, May 16-18, 2011, to dig deep into the theme of the event: "Scrum Better -- Move the Needle."

Steve McConnell, CEO and Chief Software Engineer at Construx Software is providing one of the keynotes at the Gathering. His talk, "The Journey to Organization-Wide Scrum," explores what Scrum practitioners need to know when they're ready to roll out Scrum throughout a whole company. McConnell takes a look at some common pitfalls and shares ideas on how to make the transition as sooth as possible.

We caught up with McConnell ahead of the Gathering to find out why he chose this fascinating and insightful topic. "When Agile first began drawing attention in about 2000, my company adopted a 'wait and see' attitude," says McConnell. "Part of the reason was that we thought the hype exceeded the experience with the techniques. We didn’t feel that we had enough basis for recommending some of the hotter techniques to our clients. In hindsight, I’m glad we waited, because the methodology that originally got most of the attention, Extreme Programming, ended up not panning out in the long term in most cases. As XP waned, Scrum became more prominent. I had been aware of Scrum for a long time – I described it in 1996 in my book Rapid Development, when it was still its infancy. By about 2005 or 2006, Scrum began to emerge as the clear “best of breed” practice from the agile movement. Companies were successful much more often with Scrum than they had been with XP, and they tended to stick with Scrum much longer than XP.

"Over the past several years as we’ve gained more experience with many companies implementing Scrum, we’ve seen how powerful Scrum can be across a wide variety of types of software and types of organizations," continues McConnell. "We’ve also seen numerous ways in which initial implementations of Scrum can fail – many of which are not really the fault of Scrum. We’ve also seen many ways that Scrum implementations can stall as companies attempt to extend Scrum beyond small teams – some of those limitations are the fault of Scrum, in some sense, but can be overcome without undermining the factors that make Scrum effective, My talk summarizes these lessons learned, some of which have been previously reported, and some of which haven’t."

Putting together a Global Gathering is no easy task but volunteer Event Chair Bryan Stallings says he's had a lot of fun along the way. With only a few weeks left to go, Stallings says all the big planning is done and now it's time for the finishing touches. " For example, we just put plans in place for the evening reception on Monday night. It is going to be great and I hope everyone at the Scrum Gathering will plan to attend. We'll head down the street about two blocks from the hotel to Fox Sports Grill for food, drinks, conversation, fun entertainment, big screen TVs, and a chance to break away for a while," says Stallings. "I'm also looking forward to the chance to spend some time with the volunteers and staff who have worked together to organize the Gathering.  For instance, there are a number of volunteers who put in some significant hours to review all of the submissions and function as a review committee for surprising number of session proposals that came in response to the call for proposals. Many thanks to each of them, and I look forward to meeting everyone!"

Stallings says he's thrilled about the enthusiasm the Gathering has generated within the Agile space. "I’ve been so delighted to see the passion that the Scrum community has about getting together to share information about being successful with Scrum, and being better in our roles and with our teams. The tracks and the speaker sessions will offer participants a wonderful set of interesting concepts and new ideas," he commented. "I think the biggest challenge for many of us will be which of the many interesting sessions to attend since there will be so much going on at a time." Stallings recommends attendees be sure to not leave the event early, or they'll miss out on one of the most exciting components of the program. "The third day on the program will both surprise and delight the conference participants," he says. "Using the framework offered through Open Space Technology, we are going to collaborate together to create a full day of participant-hosted session on the subjects that the group is most interested in passionate about attending. We will do all of that in about one hour. Many who have attended pervious Scrum Gatherings have commented that the Open Space sessions were the best part of the conference. So, prepare to be surprised."

If you haven't registered for the Gathering yet, there's still time. Be sure to check the event page on the Scrum Alliance website for everything you need to know about the sessions, speakers, hotel accommodations, and more. You can even book ground transportation from the airport to the hotel right online.