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If you have been following this blog, you already know that Axosoft is embracing SCRUM in a big way. We have adopted SCRUM into our own development efforts and we have also made it a top-priority to have full SCRUM support in OnTime 2009 (due out in Q1 of 2009 and currently in beta).
But as our own customer survey showed, even though SCRUM is the top agile development method, it is in use by only 12% of software development teams. So if SCRUM is so great, why is it not more widely adopted? There are several potential answers to that question:
With that information in mind, I felt that the software community could use a brief crash-course that covers the core concepts of SCRUM without any product, tools or services being promoted to distract the viewer. So I set out to create a video that would introduce SCRUM in under 10 minutes. It turns out, this is not such an easy task.
I started writing the script in a style that might be familiar to a lot of boring college professors:
A product backlog is a list of features…a sprint is like a milestone…blah blah blah
Even as I wrote the script, I thought the script was bad, but I wanted to get something on paper as a starting point. I then shared the script with one of my partners in crime, Angelo Coppola. He immediately blasted it. He ripped into it calling it “boring”, “vague” and “obnoxious.” Wait a second! Those descriptions sounded vaguely familiar. I already knew what Angelo was telling me: a total re-write had to be done. But before re-writing the script, I went to our conference room white board and I created a storyboard of what I wanted in the visuals:
As you can see, I was meant to be an artist! I must have missed my true calling somewhere along the line. With the new visuals in hand (or I should say in my iPhone), I went back to re-writing the script. I brought in Derek Harju, our resident flash artist at Axosoft, asking him to take my storyboard and bring it to life! Pretty easy, right?
In the new script, I decided to introduce concepts and visuals simultaneously. In a previous video I made on a political topic, the impact of bringing in visuals and words together at the same time seemed to work well. So the script changed from a boring “a product backlog is blah blah blah…” to something like this:
In SCRUM you work with THESE [show a product backlog], which is then broken down into THESE [show a release backlog]…and so on.
This time, I felt the script was much stronger and Angelo agreed. So it was on to the visuals.
Over the next several weeks, Derek went to work to bring the visuals to life. From the beginning, Derek’s work was great. Here are a couple of the earlier samples:
The Team and a Product X Under Development
Illustrating the Product Backlog
The early illustrations were good, but they weren’t great. So with each iteration of the visuals, we would make minor adjustments. I would say “the people are too flat” and Derek would make 3D people, Angelo would say “the box is ugly” and would photoshop a potential box. Then Derek would take it and run with it. Eventually, after countless meetings and having way too many dreams about how to illustrate SCRUM, we were finally down the right path. The end results became this:
Illustrating that Feature Requests for a product can come from anywhere
Illustrating the product owner’s involvement in the product backlog
Showing how a release backlog is broken down into multiple sprints
Showing a burndown chart with burndown velocity and due dates
Derek had done an amazing job with the visuals and animations. By now, Derek was probably having nightmares with my voice and the background music as he was listening to it for 8 hours a day! After he finished the visuals, I wasn’t happy with the script again. There were too many unfunny jokes and minor vocal mistakes in the recording. So I went back to GarageBand, which is an absolutely amazing product, to finalize the audio:
After a bunch of minor tweaks to the script and a few dozen more takes, the audio was finally done. I handed it over to Derek to finalize the Flash.
To our pleasant surprise and complete amazement, a week before we finalized the SCRUM video, YouTube started hosting HD-quality videos at 1280 x 720 resolution. The HD Videos on YouTube were stunning and we wanted to be a part of it! The timing couldn’t have been better as the illustrations in our video look very bad at YouTube’s traditional 320 x 200 resolution. We had worked too hard on this video to let the fuzziness of low-quality video kill it, so we were extremely excited to host it in HD.
After getting the final video from Derek, there were still a couple of minor timing-related issues that Flash was throwing at us during the rendering process. iMovie to the rescue:
With less than 10 minutes of tweaking things in iMovie, the video that we had worked on for nearly 5 weeks was now complete. It was time to upload it to YouTube and wait for the HD quality video to show up.
About 2 hours after uploading the video to YouTube, the HD version emerged and it was amazing. To have this video hosted in HD, something that would have been impossible just 1 week before, was an exciting feeling. Here is a link to the end result:
Within 2 days of the video being on YouTube, it had already risen to the #1 search result in YouTube for the word “SCRUM” and it has made all sorts of top “honors” lists in YouTube’s Science & Technology category. The reviews so far have been excellent and the feedback via email directly to me has been overwhelmingly positive.
So, there you have it…5 weeks of work by 3 people at Axosoft to make this video and not a single product or service promoted.
I hope you enjoy it and pass it on.