The Art of Doing Twice as Much in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland (Full Transcript)

Jeff Sutherland

Full text of inventor and Co-Creator of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland on The Art of Doing Twice as Much in Half the Time at TEDxAix conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: The art of doing twice as much in half the time by Jeff Sutherland at TEDxAix


Hello! I am here to talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — a great American dream that’s often not fulfilled. In the words of the poet Robert Burns, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go terribly wrong and lead to pain and suffering instead of the promised hope”.

I first started to wrestle with this problem as a cadet at West Point. We went through a lot of pain and suffering in our training. And in the last year I was there, they made me the training officer for Company L2. Because they had a marching problem on the parade field. Company L2 was known as the loose deuce. Because for a hundred years, they had a tradition of mediocrity, sloppy performance. For decades, people had tried to get them to march longer, train harder but nothing worked. So I knew I had to do something different.

So what I decided to do is I couldn’t tell them what to do. But I could put up on the bulletin board at night on color coded notes, exactly how their performance was on the parade field, and exactly what they needed to do to improve. Charlie has got to stop sticking his sword in the ground, in the middle of a parade. The third platoon has got to turn the corner in synchronization, and its commander has to enunciate his commands crisply and exactly right timing.

To everyone’s amazement, they became the number one company in the Corps of Cadets within three months. And General MacArthur died at this time. And he had specified there must be a company cadets marching behind his casket to lay him to rest, and L2 was chosen.

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So for dead last, to putting one of our greatest generals in the grave was a long journey in a very short period of time. Now I graduated from West Point and I went into the Air Force. While I was at West Point, I learned something from other leaders, I lived in a room which were — that had a plaque on the mantelpiece that said, “General Dwight D. Eisenhower slept here”. And every time I read that plaque, I remember his famous quote, “Plans are worthless. But planning is everything”.

So when I got to be a fighter pilot, I was in reconnaissance. We did a lot of planning. But one day, one of my fellow pilots, [Adam Berry] was blown out of the air over Hanoi by a SAM missile. And I said to myself, he did really good planning. But he was flying straight level over the target”. That could get me killed.

From that day forward, my plan was to have a vision where the target was, and as soon as I crossed North Vietnam, I went into an invasive maneuver, because every second, I knew I was being fired at. And only at the last moment would I come up straight level off for a target, just for a second, to snap that photo.

Now I got out of there alive. Over half the people I flew with did not come back from their missions. And when I came back to the United States, it was a big surprise. I had come so close to getting killed so many times. It felt like it was a new life. Every day was like a bonus day, a free day. And what was I going to do with it?

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