Why I Love Scrum

Gonna keep this short and sweet… I’ve been practicing Scrum for about 7 years now. And in my experience, it just flat out works. It’s simple, fun, and it brings people together, which is something that can be hard to do in the IT business. We get stuff done. The quality is high (assuming we’re including Agile testing best practices, like automation, unit testing and TDD). And more importantly, we deliver to the customer what they want now, not something they asked for 12 months ago.scrum_good

The beauty of Scrum, in my mind, is in our ability to inspect and adapt often. No more ‘death marches’. No more spending a ton of time up front (analysis paralysis). No more delivering a buggy product because we had a set date and only a small window to test. And no more producing something that isn’t used; a good Product Owner simply won’t allow it.

That said, Scrum is hard. It takes a change in mindset in how we work. As a former Project Manager, my days of defining a schedule up front and harassing people to meet unrealistic dates is thankfully over in my new role as Scrum Master. Scrum is based on reality. I’ve seen entire changes in corporate culture as a result of instituting Scrum. Folks don’t go back to their cubes, put their headphones on, and tune out for the projects’ entirety. We work together better in Scrum teams. We meet daily. We’re co-located. We talk. We understand each others’ issues and help resolve them straight away. We step outside our comfort zones. We have honest conversations, without repercussions. We trust each other. Transparency is high. It’s powerful. And best of all, it’s simple if people open their minds to new ideas.

Not everyone is a great fit for a Scrum team. I’ve experienced this first hand with folks who just don’t want to change. They don’t see the need. Admittedly, Waterfall still works for those more predictable efforts. But most software development isn’t predictable. In fact, it’s very unpredictable and requires a high degree of creativity and flexibility.

So yeah, change is hard; I get it; it’s human nature. But if you’re willing to let it, Scrum can be pervasive in your organization, given time to take root. Everywhere I’ve used it, most folks love it. It’s an easy sell to your boss if you want to champion it in your organization. Check out our Agile Sherpa site for more information if you’re thinking about making the switch, or just getting started.

www.agilesherpa.org

For those of you who’ve tried Scrum and don’t like it, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Let’s get a conversation going.

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6 Responses to Why I Love Scrum

  1. Nico Hiller says:

    I hate scrum.

    Do it, ok, but it’s trivial, nothing hard.

    It allows people to happily join IT & discussion, which would otherwise be standing outside (bcz of too little hard competence)

    If you want to work in IT, but you are not good enough for programming. Do so. Do testing, managment or Scrum. Honor the programmers (and their opinions) though.

    Bottom line is: Trivial things are just too trivial to talk about or have a conversation. It’s just not possible.

    The End

    • John Krewson says:

      Nico – Do I understand you correctly that you’re saying Scrum is easy? I must disagree. There are those of us who naturally tend toward the frame of mind aligned with Scrum, and for us, yes, Scrum seems simple and straightforward. Common sense even. But all humans, even all members of a development team, do not share the same frame of mind. On top of that, organizational politics that run counter to putting the team first make implementing Scrum and doing Scrum right VERY hard. I’m curious as to your role in your organization – are you on a Scrum team? Are you involved in an Agile transformation? You may want to talk to others in your organization who don’t share your frame of mind; they may have some insight to share on what makes Scrum so hard.

  2. Jeff says:

    Hey Mike, great post! I agree, I love the flexibility and rapid response to business needs. It seems like a win-win for both the development organization and the business units. You point out a couple of areas that may make Scrum not work well: having a good Product Owner, and having buy-in from the entire organization. Can Scrum be successful if the business does not embrace the concepts of short iterations and explicitly stating that there are unknowns that will be tackled throughout the process, but not at the beginning? I’ve been in businesses where IT and the users are on-board with an agile methodology but other areas (say, capital budgets) are not (or cannot change). I’m wondering how you’ve tackled these types of situations?

    • Mike McLaughlin says:

      Chris, to your question about being successful without short iterations… By definition, Scrum is all about iterative development. Without that, I think you lose the essence of Scrum. That said, you can still be Agile without iterations. Look at Kanban, for example.

  3. Agile, yes, Scrum, less so. Backlogs, absolutely. Iterations yes, but calling them sprints sends the wrong message. Ditto Scrum Master rather than coach. Defining increment as the sum of all value to date goes against the normal meaning of the word increment, and defining the increments as additive rather than iterations goes against the idea that agile is about exploring the space of solutions with early test results.

  4. Joe Programmer says:

    Umm, what a suprise a Project Manager who loves SCRUM. Try actually writing the code, and having to put up with these ridiculous ceromonies. SCRUM adds nothing to good software engineering practises, or helps a software write good code.

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