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Lessons from the Yahoo!'s Scrum Adoption

November 14, 2008 by Artem Marchenko

Tips and facts after from the company wide adoption of Scrum at Yahoo! Captured during the Gabrielle Benefield's keynote on Scan-Agile. During the adoption period, Gabrielle Benefield was Senior Director of Agile Development at Yahoo!, co-leading the company’s large-scale corporate adoption of Scrum, which now encompasses more than 200 teams projects and over 1,500 employees in the US, Europe, and India. Tips should be mostly applicable for similarly sized enterprises, though generally useful for smaller companies as well.

  • Bribe with snacks, seriously
    • You will be surprised how many minds free food can open.
  • Get total commitment from all parties or they will shoot you.
    • Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
  • Change costs money - invest in coaching, otherwise it is too easy to go back to waterfall.
  • At Yahoo! each Scrum Trainer was starting up and was coaching about 10 Scrum teams a year.
  • Average velocity increase due to the Scrum adoption across the company was estimated conservatively at 35%  per year (measured from team impressions since before Scrum velocity wasn't measured). In reality in many cases it was more like 300%-400%.
    • Even under conservative estimate that made net development cost reduction of over $1 million a year and Return of Investment in transition and expensive trainers was about 100%.
  • No design out of the sprint cycle? That doesn't always work. Even Scrum authors (at least one of them) changed his mind about this rule.
  • Make 20% of the teams very good, rather than improve 80% of the teams to the mediocre level.
  • 15% to 20% of people don't like Scrum consistently (18% in 2005, 19% in 2006, 17% in 2007).
  • There might be just a single window of opportunity. Do a deep dive, train managers as soon as possible.

    About the Author: As the Editor-in-Chief for, Artem is charged with overseeing the direction for content, advertising, and the overall management of the site. Nowadays in his day life, Artem is a product manager in a global telecommunication company where he leads the development of a product developed in extremely distributed environment. Artem has been applying Agile and researching Agile since 2005. Contact Artem


    Schwaber or Sutherland :)

    March 24, 2009 by Artem, 6 years 28 weeks ago
    Comment id: 2404

    I am quoting Gabrielle Benefield here. I don't clearly remember, but I think she referred to talks to Ken Schwaber, not to Sutherland.

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