Using Scrum to read a book about Scrum

I’m reading Dr. Jeff Sutherlands book ‘Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity’.

Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity

It seems like a good opportunity to put into practice some of the techniques of Scrum to help me read the book productively.

User stories

User Stories are written in a ‘who, what, why’ format and are used to express the customer’s motivations and what they want to achieve.

Let’s write a user story:
“As someone interested in learning about Scrum I want to read a book about Scrum so that I can learn and think about some of the principles and practices of Scrum.”

Now let’s a quick look at the user story to help us understand what its not saying. So, I’m a user with an interest in Scrum, not a practitioner who needs to retain expert knowledge. But I do want to be able to reflect on what I’m reading and learn from it, but not memorise it or take notes outside of the book. It mentions thinking about Scrum but not putting it into practice which helps to keep it small, distinct and contained. If the user story mentioned being able to put Scrum into practice we’d have to consider the outcomes differently.

Definition of Ready

In order to tackle the user story and start a sprint we need a definition of ready. It should be help us know if the user story is independent, negotiable, valuable, estimable, small, and testable.

We’ve got our user story, and thought a bit about what it isn’t, and it meets the INVEST criteria, so we’re ready to go.

Definition of Done

We need to know whether I’m achieving what I set out to, so we need a definition of done which we can then use a) know what we need to get done in each sprint, and b) compare with our user story to know if we’re delivering value to the customer.

Our Definition of Done:
“A chapter has been read, and sentences that resonate with me, seem important, might be something I want to look back on, or ideas I want to think about have been underlined.”

Reading in Sprints

As this user only gets time to read during my commute we should set our sprint length as 15 minutes. My commute is longer than 15 minutes but with distractions and ‘reading with a pen’ 15 minutes of focused reading is achievable.

Measuring velocity

Chapters are not of equal length so there aren’t a good measure to use, even though they are mentioned in our definition of done. Perhaps we should use pages as our measure as they are of fixed length. We have to take into account not just the reading but the underlining and thinking, so let’s say that to start with a velocity of a page a minute. There are 238 pages in the book (let’s round up to 240 for ease), which equals 4 hours of reading. Divided by our 15 minute sprint length means it’ll take me 16 sprints to finish the book.

I’m on page 146 right now so this is what my burndown chart looks like:

Scrum book burndown

How could we increase velocity? I could underline less, or think less about what I underline, but then would I be achieving the definition of done? Reducing scope reduces value delivered. I could focus more during the sprint to reduce the time it takes to read a page and so increase the number of pages I can read during each sprint.

Of course, if I’d spent the time reading instead of writing this blog post I’d be even further forward.