Home > Agile adoption, Agile stuff, Lean, Scrum > Scrum does not work, that’s why it does work!

Scrum does not work, that’s why it does work!

At my training classes the students get actually a bit disappointed when I tell them that Scrum does not solve many of their problems. Most of the students expect that Scrum will solve most of their problems and quality, productivity, predictability and value will be greatly improved. Well unfortunately Scrum does none of that!

Introducing Scrum in your organization does a lot of other things. The main thing it does is that it gives you a lot of very valuable insights. In fact what often happens is that you embark on the Scrum roller coaster and after a few sprints you realize that Scrum does not work in your organization for various reasons.

Scrum is very very hard and it just does not work here because we are special.

You are for example just not able to:

  • Create small cross functional teams;
  • Deliver tested, integrated and accepted software in short sprints;
  • Handle all those disturbances that pop up from the outside during sprints;
  • Have specialized people help each other on different specialization areas in a team;
  • Deploy to production frequently;
  • Produce code according to your well known quality standards every sprint
  • Have teams dedicated to a product for longer time periods;
  • Create real improvement actions during retrospectives;
  • Find a good Product Owner to lead Scrum Teams;
  • Steer development on value;
  • Produce reliable forecasts and plans;
  • Detail your requirements Just In Time;
  • Get developers involved in visioning activities;
  • Have performance testing be part of a sprint;
  • Have architects that know how co write code;
  • Have developers understand the domain;
  • and so on

There are so many reasons why Scrum just does not work in your organization.

Well if you have so many reasons why Scrum does not work in your organization then Scrum is in fact working perfectly at your organization!

When you introduce Scrum you can suddenly see, if you are willing to face it,  numerous dysfunctions or as I want to call them potential improvements everywhere.

Now the question becomes “What are you going to do about them?”. If you are not willing to do anything about them then there is no use in adopting Scrum!

Management, as always, plays a very important role. Is management continuing to work around the problems, that is doing a lot of rework and firefighting? or is management going to work on improving the processes and focus on problem solving?

That is the main question!

In a continuous improvement culture, management sets challenging goals. Once those goals are met and things stabilize and teams become happy and feel there is nothing worth improving, management changes something and creates unstableness upholding the same goals or even setting more demanding goals to achieve. That is what Scrum gives you, challenging goals you can use for continuous improvement. The goals must be very challenging as described in The New New Product Development Game.

The thinking behind this is that you need to create product to beat your competition today but that you need to improve to beat your competition tomorrow!

So there is no point in taking on a easier approach because Scrum is hard. Scrum challenges you to be perfect and that is, although you will never be perfect, exactly what you need for improvement.

  1. July 4, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Nice overview.

    One addition might be: “Our pyromaniacs are just not able to stop all the fires”.

    People sit back and look at your list, wondering who heck heck will take up the responsibility to get these impediments out of the way.

    Anything on the list is an opportunity only when the pain to have them is too much to handle ánd we teach ourselves to do something. Anything. Otherwise it’s just a piece of waste we should ignore and get on with the things we do…until change happens anyway and then we lose.

    Hope to see you at Stoos?

    • cesarioramos
      July 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Exactly, that is why pyromaniacs start early in the morning and go home late in the evening. They just love fires.

  2. Kenneth
    July 5, 2012 at 7:43 am

    IMHO, like other fields, there IS NO one single solution for different problems. Scrum and others methodology are only a guideline (if not principle) to achieve a goal. If we cannot control the wind there is no way to accurately predict the weather.

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