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September, 2008:

Ken Schwaber on the Scrum Framework

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been taking a serious look at the agile methodology and looking at whether we would benefit from employing it in a more purist manner. It is not completely new to us but any agile purist out there would say using a hybrid product development framework is well, a hybrid and doesn’t count. Like using day old used coffee grinds. So doing a bit more research on the Scrum framework and the agile methodology, and as I get more immersed into the agile practice in a pure sense, the more interesting it becomes.

One of my colleagues, Daniel Bullington, sent a Google Video on a talk that Ken Schwaber, co-inventor of SCRUM, gave back in 2006. The video is below but here is a classic excerpt about the value of SCRUM that Ken gave in the talk:

If you have a team of outstanding engineers that are using excellent engineering tools, have engineering practices down pat, understand the business domain and aren’t interrupted to have all the resources they need, then you can use Scrum.  While it’s true that people like that can build an increment of software each iteration.  That’s good.

However, Scrum works with idiots.  You can take a group of idiots, that maybe didn’t even go to school, don’t understand computer science, don’t understand software engineering techniques, hate each other, don’t understand the business domains, have lousy engineering tools and uniformly, they will produce “crap” every increment.  This is good!

You want to know where you are at the end of every iteration.


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Disqus must be Disgusted

Okay, I’m probably exaggerating but it sure makes a good headline.  At this point, most have heard the news that Automattic, parent company of WordPress (which powers this blog) acquired IntenseDebate for an undisclosed sum.  Offical news here, here and here.

IntenseDebate is one of the major blog commenting platforms out there.  The other is Disqus, the one I use on this blog and one I tend to favor based on overall reliability and feature set.  Both companies clearly get the value of commenting, user-generated content and the real power of conversation aggregation.  But if I were to put the two on a score card on execution, Disqus demonstrates real innovative thinking on how to put an overall platform together and paint their vision of what conversation aggregation can do and how to do it.  This was evidenced by their very early integration into WordPress and Daniel Ha’s continued work to integrate into FriendFeed once they emerged a critical aggregation player as well.

But, what is also clear is WordPress understands the value and importance of the comments on blogs (not that they didn’t before).  And as the major blog platform, WordPress has the value chain power to use this strategic acquisition to emerge as the leader in blogging as well as commenting.  And it is for this simple but important reason, that they acquisition is a huge coup for IntenseDebate in prepping for the future to potentially become the ultimate winner in this segment.  There is a sheer numbers game here and by WordPress rolling Intense’s toolkit out as part of their builds, it will instantaneously deploy Intense’s technology to blogs everywhere.  That removes one key obstacle for Intense that Disqus will continue to have to overcome in order to gain market share:  convincing blog owners to install.  Now, for IntenseDebate, it happens automatically.

Let’s hope that WordPress remains agnostic in their approach to continue to allow third party developers to build, promote and florish inside the WordPress platform.  I would like to continue to remain a Disqus user and expect to see fantastic things from them.  I will be keen to see how Disqus responds because we could be witnessing a business case of value chain integration that will be very tough to withstand.