Book Reading & Agile Scrum Method = An Analogy

Learning is easy when you develop an analogy with known & easy to remember items.Here is an analogy that you will remember for life about Agile methods.

Agile is like reading your school text-book. Yes! Let us go back to your school days.


Start of the year, Teacher provides you a text-book (say Science subject) that have 12 chapters totaling 400 pages!!! If teacher ask you to study the whole text-book and write exam at the end of the year how do you feel? You may feel it will be very difficult, boring & you keep the book always in hand but don’t think you studied all content.

Take this way – Teacher says ‘Each chapter is around 35 pages long. I am going to cover one chapter for every 15 days. End of each chapter, I will test you with questions taken only from that one chapter. We will follow this method till we complete all 12 chapters.” Will it not give you entirely different feel?

One clever student asked “Pages for each chapter differs in that case what do we do madam?” Teacher told “You are right. Okay. Based on chapter size, we will make it 10 (for small chapter), 15 (for average chapter) and 20 (for big chapter) days.

Suppose she goes ahead and say ” We are not going to go in same chapter order. I will cover all important chapters first and then we cover other chapters.”  That make your reading even more interesting. Right? So, after 6 months time, where you will be? You are done with reading & understanding the entire text-book content!!!

Agile is methodology that is based an iterative, incremental software development processes. A group of methods implements Agile principles out of which one is called Scrum. Let me restrict my analogy to Scrum method. Book reading explained above is also an iterative, incremental process where we are performing study of whole book in given time period.

Here is the terminology match between text-book reading & Scrum:

  1. Entire Text Book with chapters ordered based on importance Product Backlog (A prioritized list of high-level requirements for a product)
  2. Each Chapter Sprint Backlog (A prioritized list of tasks to be completed during the sprint)
  3. Each subtopics in Chapter User Stories (an independent, negotiable, valuable, estimable, small, testable requirement (“INVEST”))
  4. Chapter Completion Time Sprint (A time period (typically 1–4 weeks) in which development occurs on a set of backlog items that the team has committed to)
  5. Test after each chapter Sprint deliverables (all features/deliverables completed in the sprint)
  6. Evaluation of test output Sprint Retrospective (Meeting with team to find out – what went well during the sprint? and What could be improved in the next sprint?)
  7. Pages finished & to yet complete in current chapter (goes down to 0 as we complete each page) Sprint Burndown Chart (Chart that shows daily progress for a Sprint  over the sprint’s length – remaining work in the sprint backlog)
  8. Pages finished & to complete the whole book (goes down to 0 as we complete each chapter)Release Burndown Chart (amount of work left to complete the target commitment for a Product Release)
  9. Rate at which each chapter is completed Veolocity (The total effort a team is capable of in a sprint)

With this analogy I hope you get fair idea about Scrum terms & its usage.