20 Amazing Jeff Sutherland Quotes

Jeff Sutherland is a software developer and one of the inventors of the Scrum software development process. As the writer of ‘The Scrum Guide,’ Sutherland helped to create Scrum as a formal process. Here is a look at some of the most popular Jeff Sutherland quotes from his lifetime.

“Actually showing the product was powerful, because people were, to put it mildly, skeptical of the team’s reported progress. They just couldn’t believe Sentinel’s progress actually kept moving at a faster and faster rate.”

“Any Scrum without working product at the end of a sprint is a failed Scrum.”

“At its root, Scrum is based on a simple idea: whenever you start a project, why not regularly check in, see if what you’re doing is heading in the right direction, and if it’s actually what people want? And question whether there are any ways to improve how you’re doing what you’re doing, any ways of doing it better and faster, and what might be keeping you from doing that.”

“Each cycle J.J. would talk to the team and ask three very simple questions: What did you do since the last time we talked? What are you going to do before we talk again? And what is getting in your way?”

“Greatness can’t be imposed; it has to come from within. But it does live within all of us.”


“I didn’t want to pick on him, but the fact is, in project after project, people cut and paste and throw in boilerplate, but no one actually reads all those thousands of pages.”

“I was the leader of this team. They had faith in me. I had to let go of the worry. Let go of the fear. I could curl up and cry at home. Not here.”

“It was the Scrum Master’s job to guide the team toward continuous improvement—to ask with regularity, “How can we do what we do better? Ideally, at the end of each iteration, each Sprint, the team would look closely at itself—at its interactions, practices, and processes—and ask two questions: “What can we change about how we work? and “What is our biggest sticking point? If those questions are answered forthrightly, a team can go faster than anyone ever imagined.”

“Man, what a day. Not the worst day of my life, but up there. Top five.”

“Money for Nothing and Change for Free.”

“Multitasking Makes You Stupid. Doing more than one thing at a time makes you slower and worse at both tasks. Don’t do it. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re wrong—it does.”

“No Heroics. If you need a hero to get things done, you have a problem. Heroic effort should be viewed as a failure of planning.”

“Number of Simultaneous Projects Percent of Time Available per Project Loss to Context Switching 1 100% 0% 2 40% 20% 3 20% 40% 4 10% 60% 5 5% 75%.”

“People aren’t happy because they’re successful. They’re successful because they’re happy.”

“Plus, the effort to “exercise firm control doesn’t even work! Even with Change Control Boards trying to limit changes, the need for change is so great that they’re often overruled.”

“That absolute alignment of purpose and trust is something that creates greatness.”

“The fact is, when you look at the best teams—like the ones that existed at Toyota or 3M when Takeuchi or Nonaka wrote their paper, or the ones at Google or Salesforce.com or Amazon today—there isn’t this separation of roles.”

“The people who multitask the most just can’t focus.”

“The Scrum Master, the person in charge of running the process, asks each team member three questions: 1. What did you do yesterday to help the team finish the Sprint? 2. What will you do today to help the team finish the Sprint? 3. What obstacles are getting in the team’s way? That’s it. That’s the whole meeting.”

“The thing that cripples communication saturation is specialization—the number of roles and titles in a group. If people have a special title, they tend to do only things that seem a match for that title. And to protect the power of that role, they tend to hold on to specific knowledge.”

Jeff Sutherland is known as being one of the world’s leading experts on organizational management. During this Tedx Talk, Sutherland talks about how to do twice as much in half the time. As the Co-writer to the Agile Manifesto, much advice is shared during this independent event.

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