May 19, 2024


curled up on the sofa

This is the book review and summary of Scrum the art of doing twice the work in halftime by Jeff Sutherland. When one works on a project there are two main problems that occur when planning. The first is called a planning fallacy.

Planning Fallacy

It is basically an overly optimistic or pessimistic view of how long a project will take to complete. Researchers have found that what people plan and actually do can be regularly up to five times or four times less. Simply said people are bad at planning an estimation.

Things cause problems in large scale planning:

  1. Things come up that one didn’t plan
  2. Most plans are overly detailed
  3. Usually, the planners are not on the same page as the do-ers.

This is what scrum is mostly about, how to deal with large projects to break them down and make them easier to work with.

The other problem is the Sunk Cost Fallacy

When people spend time on something or a feature, they become emotionally invested in it. They resist changes or throwing them away. This problem could be solved by rotating jobs among employees. This can help you not getting attached to the particular work. To know more, Sunk Cost Fallacy

The big idea of scrum is to break the project into smaller chunks that can be worked on in teams of 3 to 9 people. Within these chunks, the workers will create, update and constantly change plans. It is important that the plan has to be changing, that way it stays alive.

Changes in plan

The constant plan changes allow scrum to be so versatile and adaptive that the smaller teams will also result in more accurate planning since the people actually doing the work are also doing the planning. Also, because the group is small the group will communicate better and more effectively.


Chunks of people work in something is called a Sprint which is usually a week or two that the group tries to achieve a common goal and build momentum. At the end of the sprint, it is tried to improve the goals by at least 10%. This is the improvement known as Kaizen in Japanese. In scrum, this is captured at the end of each sprint which the author says is “Sprint Retrospective”.

Sprint Retrospective

After the team has shown what they have accomplished during the last sprint that thing that is “Done” and can potentially be shipped to customers feedback- they sit down and think about what went right and what could have been done better and what can be made better in the next sprint.
The retrospective meeting is the “check” part of the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle. The key is getting to that “Act” step, Kaizen, which will actually change the process and make it better the next time.

Another great thing from the book is to “make all work visible”. Here everyone can see everyone’s progress, the extra encouragement can push a slow worker and congratulate a successful one. Jeff suggests putting up a burn-down chart.

Burndown chart

This is a chart that shows up how much of a goal is left. There is a psychology behind this and the reason that a burn-down chart works way better than a chart that goes up is somewhat like eating that last bite of an ice cream drumstick which is super satisfying.

Scrum Board

Also, a Do, Doing, and Done chart is a great idea. It can be done on a scrum board. It is a public chart of mini-goals and needs to be completed. When someone signs out a story everyone knows who is working on it and everyone knows when it’s done. Anyone can glance at the board and know exactly how the team is doing.
If the story has been in the doing column for too long, the team can self-organize to defeat problems that become obvious once everything is transparent.

Birth of Scrum

The author Jeff says,” We delivered the product at Easel on schedule within six months, under budget, and with fewer bugs than any previous delivery. This was the formal birth of “scrum”. IN 1995 he presented a paper with Ken Schwaber called “Scrum Development Process” which codified those practices at an Association for computing machinery research conference.

The Art of doing twice the work in half the time book summary


One must know their velocity. Every team should know exactly how much work they can get done in each sprint and they should know how much they can improve that velocity by working smarter and removing barriers that are slowing them down.
velocity * time = delivery. Once they know how fast they are going, they will know how soon they will get there.

Scrum can change the world

Scrum accelerates all human endeavors. It can be used in any endeavor to improve performance and results.

Scrum for schools

In the Netherlands, a growing number of teachers are using scrum to teach high school. They see an almost immediate improvement in test scores of more than 10 percent. Therefore, scrum is a boom for schools too.

Scrum for poverty

In Uganda, the Grameen Foundation is using scrum to deliver agricultural and market data to poor rural farmers.
The result: double the yield and double the revenue for some of the poorest people on the planet.


Scrum is the revolutionary approach to project management and team building that is transforming the way business operates. Already adopted by world-leading organizations, it has been proven to slash cost and working hours while simultaneously delivering staggering productivity.

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