Be an Agile Scholar

“If you do that, you’re NOT Funky Stenciled No Trespassing Sign IsolatedThe trouble brewing in my mind, “When did framework xenophobia become the norm?”

Somewhere, somehow, I think many of us lost the intent behind these frameworks. When did it become more important for your sprint planning meeting to last 4 hours, no more no less vs. “Is the business and development team communicating and collaborating?”

To the retrospective question, if a mature team has inspected and adapted their process and decided to conduct retrospectives more frequently during their sprint, vs. a single ceremony at the end, is this bad? Wouldn’t it still meet the definition of Scrum?

One could argue yes, but why are we arguing at all? We should be learning from that team to see if it is something we can do on our own teams (OK, ‘borrow’ from their practices).

I am not going to attack Scrum. It works very well when a team understands the concepts behind the framework. What scares me is the increase in people that equate being agile to implementing Scrum. It feels as if many of us have lost sight of the purpose of these frameworks: deliver working software!

2014 might be the time to stem the tide of “Scrum scholars” and encourage more people to be “Manifesto scholars”.

After all, the purpose of the popular (or not so popular) agile frameworks is to simply be vehicles bringing the Agile Manifesto and its principles to life.

I cringe when I hear that people are being judged or ‘graded’ for their performance review by how rigorously they follow the ceremonies of a particular framework. By and large, it is not simply good enough to hold the ceremony for the sake of the ceremony. The team needs to understand its intent and extract value. Otherwise it is just another meeting people come to dread.

USA Constitution ParchmentRather than grading facilitators or scrum masters on simply holding ceremonies, why not grade them on their understanding of WHY they hold it? Can they articulate the value it is supposed to bring, and the actual value their team gets from it? Do they understand how that ceremony gets them early and continuously deliver valuable software?

We are well into this new year, but maybe it is not too late to start focusing on the manifesto.

By adhering more to the foundational principles, vs. strict adherence to a framework with blind optimism, maybe we will produce less ceremony check marks and more working software.


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3 Responses to Be an Agile Scholar

  1. Mike McLaughlin says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Brian. Frameworks are guidelines, not strict rules and procedures that if not followed, get you called to the carpet. At the end of the day, iterative delivery of valuable, quality products is what reigns supreme.

  2. Randy Roosekrans says:

    Great points. Most of our Scrum meetings/ceremonies end within a few minutes of the time-boxed schedule, whereas others might finish early or run long. As the Scrum Master, I’m okay with either result as long as the time is being used productively. For the meetings that run over the given time, the determining factor is whether or not there is more value in a longer discussion at that moment vs. returning to work to address immediate needs.

  3. Alex says:

    Dave Thomas told that agile is killing because the people thing agile is magic and the commercial people nos is interesting at sell all it. Many business are trying to link scrum with cmmi not just for be agile and add value for the vision rather by make money thought hours at consulting. Agile is dangerous deformed.

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