Scrum Renaissance


Are you sick and tired of rigidity and attitude in the Scrum community?  Me too.  So is Scrum.org.  Let’s get over it together so we can get some work done.

Stuff has been brewing in the Scrum world this autumn, and two big events aligned last month: the Professional Scrum Trainer global meetup followed by the ALM Summit.  I’m not a PST (yet), but the impact of the meetup was unmistakable as fired-up PSTs stormed the Summit and they and Scrum.org rolled out both conversations and official sessions with some of the new messaging around Scrum.

My PST colleague Martin is tackling a number of the substantive changes in his blog (“Are you doing Scrum? Really?” and others).  I think he captures well what I’m most excited about: the new language and the new approach do a lot to undo the rigidity and religious warring around Scrum.

To me, the first big hint of changes to come was when David Starr joined Scrum.org back in July.  In his announcement, he pointed out that he’s “more pragmatist than zealot” and wrote favorably about a long list of practices that many folks in the process community have made out to be “competitors of” or “incompatible with” Scrum for some reason.  I know David’s been involved in the Scrum.org world for a long time, but it struck me as potentially a big deal to have him officially on board.

Bringing a measure of tolerance to the process wars

In October, we got more evidence from Scrum.org that change was coming: “Scrum is Open for Modification and Extension“.  A coder might initially say “open to extension, closed to modification”, so it’s interesting to think about why they didn’t.  It’s gutsy for Scrum.org to put itself out there as willing to change the framework itself in response to community feedback.  Modification is formalized, which means it does not seem to be an invitation for immature teams to pick and choose and throw out and make up practices willy-nilly and call them “Scrum”.  I’m interested to see where that goes.

It had a good run

That brings us to the really big news: the death of Scrum But.

I have no doubt that Scrum But, as a concept, was intended to be helpful. I know this because I just finished co-authoring a slide deck built entirely around Scrum Buts: why your rationales are legitimate reactions to the difficulties of Scrum practice and should be heeded, and why a more thorough understanding of Scrum principles is almost always a better solution than a Scrum violation.  I am certain I was trying to be helpful.

Seriously, in the space of two weeks I went from “the trouble with your Scrum But deck is that you keep refusing to spell it with two Ts” to “you’re gonna have to throw out that Scrum But deck”.  Two weeks!  Is this a Renaissance or a Revolution?!

Scrum But is dead.  Long live the Scrum Curve!

The Scrum Curve: no buts about it

I stole this from Martin because it’s awesome and it’s a much more useful way to illustrate the point that matters: Scrum isn’t a boolean, it’s a continuum.  Teams may be doing Scrum to greater or lesser degrees.  Yes!  There is room for variability in practices that we can still call Scrum!  Now, instead of clucking (get it?) at teams for being “Scrum But”, we can help them refine and improve their Scrumminess to improve their performance. Instead of all or nothing, we can fully support incremental adoption and growth over time, including extension practices (like from Kanban) that working together take teams to Scrumfinity and beyond.

Update: It’s a good day for a Renaissance!  By delightful coincidence, Scrum.org rolled out their new front page today.  I’m excited to be engaged with what’s coming next!

Just look what they found space for!

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9 thoughts on “Scrum Renaissance

  1. pmhut

    Renaissance means that Scrum was dead before, but was it really?

    In any case, I think right now Kanban is slowly replacing Scrum. I haven’t heard about Kanban until last year (and I run PM Hut), and now there are many articles written on Kanban and how to move from Scrum to Kanban and how Kanban is better than Scrum, etc…

    Maybe it’s now the demise of Scrum…

    Reply
    1. bsktcase Post author

      Well, no, I didn’t call it “scrum resurrection”… ;)

      I don’t think Scrum and Kanban are incompatible. That’s the promise of extensibility in Scrum; now we’ll see if it delivers.

      Reply
  2. Mordecai Zibkoff

    While I can understand that teams and organizations adopt scrum incrementally, its important to understand that the promise of agile/scrum of an order of magnitude of improvement in output can only be achieved by being somewhat prescriptive. Without this scrum will end up being a disappointment. Also that biggest scrum but I have seen still holds. for all the scrum ritual and artifacts, without streamlining meetings, and without self organization/bottomup management, scrum simply becomes lip service.

    Reply
  3. tom

    I really hope something does change, the general zealotry around Scum is really putting me off promoting something I know can work really well and offer an amazing opportunity to organisations. There needs to be humility and openness if Scum is to survive the backlash that lies ahead. Practice what you preach, collaborate and grow.

    Reply
  4. Dan Wood

    Another nice article Cheryl. I almost feel bad now for telling David that Scrum was a religion…Almost. :-) It’s a great move forward and I am curious to where it will go from here.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Scrum for One | Does that answer your question?

  6. Pingback: Scrum for One | The Agile Radar

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