Jeff Sutherland Responds to the Internet about Frequency Foundation

Jeff Sutherland has recently had some of his extracurricular activities looked into, namely the Frequency Foundation (blogged about on AgileForest, Software Architecture Blog, and reported on AgileScout and InfoQ). This initiative has had years of research behind it, and I reached out to Jeff to discuss it a bit.

Needless to day, after our discussion, I learned a lot. I asked Jeff if I could republish one of his emails to me.  Details below:


Jeff Sutherland <> Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM
To: Peter Saddington <>



My stated goal for 20 years has been to change the world of medicine
just as we have changed the world of software development. I have also
repeatedly stated publicly that the medical device technology I have
worked with for two decades will be the basis of my next company
sometime in the next 20 years when the FDA supports deployment.

I’m working with medical device companies with Scrum. One of them is
building a 50 ton
proton beam excelerator for next generation treatment of cancer. They
are already doing Scrum in software and want to move their hardware
teams to Scrum. Their product is approved by the FDA and costs 25M which
is 10% of the cost of a similar device at Mass General. The price is
dropping radically for these technologies.

My goal is to do the same thing with a device that costs about the
same as a personal computer (and has no radiation exposure). We need a
young version of Bill Gates to lead the charge.

I have a Ph.D. in this area, 11 years on the faculty of the Univ. of
Colorado Medical School funded by the National Cancer Institute, much
published research, and am still, the last time I checked, one of only
300 scientists in the U.S. authorized to lead grants funded by NCI.
Everything I’ve done has been public on the web for more than a decade
to assist other researchers in this area at MIT and elsewhere.


Jeff Sutherland, Ph.D.
CEO, Scrum, Inc.


Mr. Sutherland  is not ashamed nor hiding his years of work and service in this area. It is quite apparent that Jeff is working diligently to help the world, regardless of detractors, naysayers, and the like. For this, we can hope that he succeeds.

17 Replies to “Jeff Sutherland Responds to the Internet about Frequency Foundation”

    1. Just to put this in context, if the discussion were about UFO’s Jeff’s translation would essentially be:

      1) Yes I’ve been researching UFO’s for the past 10 years and my next Startup will be on UFO’s, after the FAA approves UFO technology

      2) For a real job, I work at NASA designing real airplanes and in fact I have a PhD in aerospace

      The two have nothing to do with each other (smokescreen pattern). Nothing.

      #2 just makes it seem as if #1 is credible.

      He is a great salesman and obfuscator and I’d like to see him on the RNC Presidential ticket in 2012.


  1. I didn’t see a response either, but then again. When was the last time you got a straight answer from someone “put on the spot”.

    Really ?? Whatever your impression of Rife, linking it back to Scrum like Jordan did, is not only specious, but smells of “cheap shot” with a heaping helping of “agenda”.

    To then further quote it, and propagate what is clearly an opinion from someone with a fundamental lack of understanding of what Scrum is about, and real accomplishments achieved with it’s application, well, it’s just disappointing. One subject couldn’t be separated from the other.

    And if the argument is that they can’t. Well…..then let’s just wipe the slate clean with every athlete, politician, person of influence, you can think of. No one’s perfect, and trying to take the tack that one subject can’t be discussed without the other, well…again, that’s just disappointing.

    1. Right I have a “fundamental” lack of understanding about Scrum, as well as UFO’s.

      Whoever doesn’t agree with UFOlogogy or Scrumology, just doesnt get it.

      Tired pattern. Go read my blog. I have 25 years in the industry, and I understand what Scrum is about very, very well.

      If you want to believe in Scrum, still, after 20 years of not producing repeatable success (Scrum was invented in 1992), that’s fine.

      I’ve chosen a different course.


        1. It’s still on my agenda but as far as you’re concerned, you’ve already seen the answer in my comments section already.

          A post on the subject is just essentially collating all the comments together, which you’ve already seen.

          Since it’s not “new” writing an I have limited time to blog I’ve been working on “new” things not just collating old things. But it is on my agenda.


  2. So you’ve been in the business as long as I have…and by now you should’ve learned that those who lean on that “I’ve been in the business…” line draw a fair bit of skepticism of their own.

    Whatever path you’ve chosen is fine, for you. NO methodology is going to save you, you can only save yourself. The fact that you speak of it in those terms, well, that speaks for itself.

    I didn’t say someone who doesn’t agree with Scrum ( or UFO’s for that matter ) “just don’t get it”, well, not necessarily, anyway, but it’s pretty evident you don’t not “get it”, you have a clear agenda in retaliation to it. If you don’t like being called out on it, well, that’s just too bad.

    I wasn’t looking to start a flame war, but it’s pretty obvious that’s what you’re rather bent on pursuing. So, if you don’t have a “fundamental lack of understanding”, then it’s that you have your own agenda, and axe to grind. Glad we got that cleared up.

    1. You’re projecting.

      What I’m attempting to day, and have been attempting to do, for more than a decade, starting with XP, and now Scrum, is to free people’s minds from the shackles that they need to follow this or that methodology.

      If they can’t think through things themselves, they should get out of the business.

      Do I have an agenda?

      Absolutely — and that agenda, is to get people to think for themselves.

      I never started this thing about Rife; that story was broken in Australia.

      What I did was to draw the parallels between Pseudoscience and Scrum. That was my posting about this subject.

      Do I believe Scrum is pseudoscience? Absolutely.

      Do I believe Rife is pseudoscience? Absolutely.

      Do I believe that there is a relationship here, that they are both pseudoscientific? Absolutely

      Do I feel a need to wake up the community to stop pursuing pseudoscientific theories, especially ones that are 20 years old with no proof of repeatable success? Absolutely

      Does that mean that I have an “axe to grind”? An axe to grind against pseudoscience, yes. I don’t have a personal axe to grind against jeff, other than the hyperbole he’s unleashed relative to unproven methodologies related to software engineering.

      Do I think Scrum is holding back the industry? Yes

      If my agenda is to demonstrate that Scrum is an unproven, simplistic methodology, propped up by an unyielding marketing machine, that’s true.

      I’m not trying to start a flame war, but I’m sure people will flame at me for daring to even question the sacredness of Scrum, XP, or whatever the next trendy buzzword is.

      Sorry, I’m an honest guy, and I call them as I see them. Flame wars aren’t on my priority list, but I know from experience that many people are “passionate” regarding these topics.



  3. Hi Peter, I’m glad you had a discussion with Jeff and that he allowed you to post a reply. I understand that this reply is in the context of a greater discussion and consequently more information pertaining to it is unknown to us.

    I don’t have any comments to really make to this endevour that he is involved in above. When it is built and tested and proven to work by respected scientists in the field then I will be one amongst the many to cheer it on if it works. Cancer is a terrible thing. I have lost family members to it and will be loosing another close family member within probably the next month or two. Anything that can be done, medically proven, in the field of science to stop this illness would be a beautiful thing.

    My concern that I outlayed only by using the facts that I could find in the original post was that the Frequency Foundation was and still is selling as a business a solution to customers that has been proven by scientists to not work.

    This is confirmed even by Frequency Foundations consent form as it being labelled as “entertainment” and that no one in Frequency Foundation is a licensed physician.

    The above comment is interesting, but irrelevant.

  4. “Do I believe Scrum is pseudoscience? Absolutely.

    Do I believe Rife is pseudoscience? Absolutely.

    Do I believe that there is a relationship here, that they are both pseudoscientific? Absolutely”


    Applying your logic, that sort of generalization would apply to ANY just about methodology. Even methods that SAY they have metrics ( Capers Jones, Watts Humphrey/Software Engineering Institute ) to “prove” they’re correct ( yet which no one at large has ever seen ).

    C’mon you should know better than to sling generalizations like that. No large organization is going to throw out data of the sort that your measure of scrutiny would imply is called for. Even if you were confronted by folks who were by their own measure successful meeting their customers needs and were using, XP/Scrum/Kanban/Pick your Agile, would it probably be sufficient.

    Even entities like the Software Engineering Institute, creators of CMMI and purveyors of TSP & PSP ( Now THERE’S a pyramid scheme if there ever was on in the Software & Systems industry. And one only until recently still backed not only by a major university, but by sufficient PhD’s to make one gag ) who’ve supposedly been collecting data ever since the “sacred 800” engineers they conned into following PSP, have released their data. And this was an organization backed by a university, an entity you’d think would DIE for industry acceptance by peer scrutiny of their data.

    “Scrum is holding back the industry”. – Wow, I’ll bet that’s a load off of the “Command and Control” folks from the PMI’s back. Of course, you can’t really be serious, or people really couldn’t take you seriously by virtue of that statement alone.

    Since I consider myself rather frank and honest too ( and I wouldn’t expect anything less from anyone else trying to make a point ), I’ve called it like I saw it. And whatever axe you REALLY have to grind, it’s certainly not just about “pseudoscience”, because boy could that be applied to anyone with a PMP after their name, or for that matter, MBA, these days. Then again, pseudoscience is what they called Astronomy back in the 1500’s. Everyone KNEW the heavens revolved around the Earth. But if you want to couple the subject of “Scrum” ( or as you put it, any trendy buzzword…say..Kanban, or Stoos ) with pseudoscience. Well, there you’re wrong. Anything inherent relying on empiricism IS science.

    Sorry, but the measure ( which you’ve clearly not delineated anywhere, and therefore left open for interpretation ) you’re looking to apply comes across as tantamount to the sort of proof obtainable via the 2nd coming of a diety. Good luck with that.

    Disclaimer: No offense to anyones religious beliefs ( or lack thereof ) were intended on my part.

  5. Oh, and for that matter……name one “certifiying” organization that doesn’t have an “unyielding marketing machine” behind it. PMI ? Check. Kanban ? Check ; well it hasn’t TOTALLY come to that, but it’s not too far off. SEI ? You want to REALLY try to become a TSP Coach ? Take a 2nd, no 3rd, mortgage, friend.

    Oh….when was the last time you wore a University jersey when rooting for YOUR favorite college team. Nope, gotcha there too….And those guys, they’ve made from being a science into an art. If you don’t have kids in college, just wait until you, and then you’ll realize just how an unyielding a marketing machine they are !

  6. Jordan,

    “Stop astroturfing” ? Yeah, that was constructive and productive discourse. Obviously you’re interested in neither.

    I’m done.

    1. Heh – well, if it’s “constructive and productive discourse” that you’re looking for, I’m happy to oblige; here’s my little contribution: As God As My Witness, before my time is over, I shall stand my boot upon the bloated corpse of $crum.

      Jordan: You are an immense personal hero, and you are not at all alone. Thank you so much for your ongoing amazing work.

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