Enough Of Scrum Already (2023)

The conversationgoes on in the Scrum and Agile circles about how far a team can stray from the hard and fast "Rules of Scrum" before becoming a “Scrum Outcast” and ... earning the derision and scorn of the “True Believers.” But there is something about the stasis of staying the same and always playing by those rules that might bother some people.
Here are some thoughts on the concept of keeping to the rules or improving out of them.

The Rules Of Scrum

Scrum, despite its definition by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland as “a framework for developing and sustaining complex products” [1], has a distinct set of rules. Unbreakable rules. The subtitle of the Scrum Guide from which that definition is taken is “The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game.

The rules are what make Scrum, Scrum. If you don’t follow the rules you are not doing Scrum.

Now, this is not a consideration uniquely tied to Scrum. If you want to play chess, you follow the rules of the pieces (the way they move), the board (8 x 8), and the other rules of the game. If you want to do something else (say, introduce a new piece, for example, the “jester” (moves 2 up, 2 over, and the player has to tell a joke) then you are no longer playing chess. There are many variations of a game with balls, bats, bases, and players, but there is only one set of rules governing baseball. And so forth.

Each of the agile approaches has rules. Extreme Programming (XP) has its Twelve Principles which establish the rules for XP. If you do not follow all twelve of the Principles, you are not doing XP. Feature Driven Development (FDD) has its processes. And so on.

The concerns of the Scrum elite are valid. They are trying to make sure that teams that only follow some of the Scrum rules and not others, and fail, do not blame Scrum for the failure. In other words, the belief is that if you follow Scrum exactly as it is defined in the rules of Scrum, the software development (or the product development) effort will be successful. If not successful, the rules were not followed, in the form of software development called “Scrumbut” (“we are doing Scrum, but [specify some rule that is not followed. e.g. we still have a project manager] ).

When asked if Scrum can be performed without various of the defined components, such as having a Scrum Master, or daily stand-ups, or a retrospective, the Scrum community is fairly unanimous is saying, “no.”

Here are some random comments from the Yahoo Scrum Development Group and the LinkedIn Agile and Lean Software development Group over the past several years.

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When asked if it were possible to “do Scrum” without Scrum Master (names withheld):

“No, it is not possible to have Scrum without Scrum Master. Have a great day.”

“You can still go and do the development work without a Scrum Master, but you can't call that Scrum.”

“If you do not have a Scrum Master on your team, you are not doing Scrum. If you do not have two bishops at the start of a chess game, you are not playing chess.”

Similar responses applied to doing Scrum without a standup and a formal end of sprint retrospective: “It’s not Scrum, it’s Scrum but.” So changing the rules should be avoided since no one likes to be called a “but” especially a “Scrum but.”

What If The Rules Stop Applying?

But what happens when the team or the players find the rules constraining or restricting or decidedly non-Agile?

Is that possible?

Example:

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The team had been together for over three years, using Scrum as their software development approach. They were by any measure a performing team under the Tuckman model. They regularly made all their sprint commitments and performed at a high velocity especially when compared to the other Scrum teams in the department.

Over the years, in their quest for continual process improvement, they made a number of changes that affected the basic tenets of Scrum.

Because they were co-located and talked among themselves continually, they decided that their Daily Stand Up was redundant. At the Stand Up, they retold what everyone already knew from the day before. They all knew what each other was doing. They said that they didn’t miss the Stand-Ups and liked the extra fifteen minutes a day the got by not having it.

They also decided that waiting until the end of the Sprint to review what they were doing was too late, making the Retrospective also redundant. They were making changes during the Sprint and adjusting and having ad hoc meetings to address issues. The Retrospective had become a review of what already happened and a waste of time.

They eliminated it.

Finally, they realized they were able to deal with all the obstacles and impediments themselves. They didn’t need to go to a Scrum Master to act as an intermediary. They ran their own Sprint Planning Sessions, and Reviews with the Product owner and they certainly needed no further instruction on how Scrum works.

Since they were functioning as a high performing team, they also worked out all their issues among themselves. They suggested that the Scrum Master could better spend his time with other teams. The Scrum Master did. (I talked to the Scrum Master, who voiced no feeling of failure or resentment at being relieved of his duties. He had more of a sense of a parent watching the child graduate from college and enter the workforce on his own. He expressed that he hoped other teams would ask that he be removed.)

Their velocity and output continued to be high in terms of both quantity and quality. But they were not doing Scrum because they were not following the Rules of Scrum. And this is all right. Certainly, the team was not concerned about labels, and in any case, they still assumed they were doing Scrum. The Scrum Sheriff had not arrived in town as yet to tell them to cease.

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First Follow All The Rules

You have to follow the rules because you need a baseline from which to evolve. Otherwise, how would you know you have improved? To paraphrase the comment from Seneca, how are you going to know the direction you want to take if you don’t have a point to start from?

If you improve your process and change one of the rules of Scrum to make it better for you, then you are no longer doing Scrum. You can call it something else. Maybe Cricket or NuScrum or Murcs (Scrum spelled backward).

What Do You Call It?

So if it is not Scrum then what is it? We can probably call the process whatever we want. The team mentioned above had just such a discussion. One suggestion was to call it “Elvis” (from an Elvis fan) because “We’re fast and we rock.” Other suggestions included “Super Scrum” (with appropriate uniforms), “Uber Scrum,” “Scrumptious,” and, of course, “Over Scrum” which the team member highlighted the double entendre by stating, “We are so over Scrum.”

What was their final answer? What did they answer when other developers or management asked them what they were doing? What did they finally end up calling their approach?

Nothing. They decided that they didn’t need a name. Or a title. Or an “Agile approach.” They decided that they didn’t even need to call themselves “Agile.” They were simply developing software the best way they knew how. And that was enough for them.

Agile Is Not About Developing Software Or Product

Maybe we have it wrong. Maybe “Agile” is not about better ways to develop software. Maybe Scrum isn’t a “product development framework.” Maybe Agile is a way to get a group of software developers together and work as a team and then as a high functioning team. Maybe software development is just what is done while the team is forming and performing. All of the practices and indications of Agile, from pair programming to the Scrum Master, to collective ownership of code, and so forth seem to be about improving the collaboration of the team as much as producing software.

Perhaps if we view “Agile” as a team development method rather than a software development approach, all the issues with being one approach or another start fading away. When the focus is on developing a high-performance team, backlogs, refactoring, having only three roles, Feature Lists, prototyping sessions, and all the rest become methods and techniques for developing the high-performance team.

Graduation Time

In the public school system in the US during the 1950s (I don’t know how long it continued) a graduation ceremony was held when the children moved from kindergarten to first grade of elementary school. I have an old photograph of myself graduating from kindergarten, passed on to my wife from my mother. In sepia tones, I am standing in front of a school wall replete with suspenders (the dress of the day), mortarboard, and some kind of certificate in my hand.

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Am I suggesting that Scrum is like kindergarten? In away.

Just as Robert Fulghum said, “All I need to know (about life) I learned in kindergarten” so we might say about Scrum: “All we need to know to be a highly productive software development team we learn in Scrum.”

Just as in kindergarten and throughout all schools, the ultimate goal is to learn something and to graduate. With Scrum (and with all Agile approaches) our goal is to learn something (especially about being in a team) and eventually to graduate from Scrum. And it doesn’t matter what we call the process we use after we “graduate” from Scrum. We can simply call it “Agile,”

Your goal should be to start with all the rules of Scrum so that you are doing Scrum and then improve to the point where you are not doing Scrum and graduate to something better: your team’s own software development process.

As Tobias Meyer once said,” the ultimate goal of Scrum is to eventually stop using Scrum.”

Author:Steve Blais

Steve Blais, PMP, has over 43 years’ experience in business analysis, project management, and software development. He provides consulting services to companies developing business analysis processes. He is on the committee for the IIBA’s BABOK Guide 3.0. He is the author of Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success.

FAQs

What are the 3 rules of Scrum? ›

Basic Scrum Rules

There are no Breaks Between Sprints. Every Sprint is the Same Length. The Intention of Every Sprint is “Potentially Shippable” Software.

What does the word Scrum mean? ›

Scrum is a framework for project management that emphasizes teamwork, accountability and iterative progress toward a well-defined goal. The framework begins with a simple premise: Start with what can be seen or known. After that, track the progress and tweak, as necessary.

When the Scrum team becomes mature enough in using Scrum they won't need a Scrum Master anymore? ›

You can still insist on taking out the Scrum Master from a mature and Professional Scrum Team for whatever reasons, just the result is not Scrum.

Which is the golden rule in Scrum? ›

These are the five golden rules in Scrum: Openness: Scrum sees collaboration as the most effective way to create the best possible product. So teamwork and transparency are essential. Rather than anxiously downplaying problems, Scrum team members are open about their progress and any roadblocks they encounter.

What are the 4 values of Scrum? ›

2016, the Scrum Values were added to The Scrum Guide. These values include Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect, and Openness.

How do you use scrum in a sentence? ›

Elbow your way through, push along, kick your way through, scrum your way through. When the time came to move in there was a rush and a scrum. I hope two-thirds of this team will not always be in the scrum. We must all push at the back of the scrum and give it a good start.

What is another word for scrum? ›

What is another word for scrum?
frayscrimmage
fightfracas
hasslescrap
scuffleskirmish
free-for-alljostle
189 more rows

What best describe scrum? ›

Scrum is an agile development methodology to address complex adaptive problems and deliver products of the highest possible value. It is a simple framework for effective collaboration among teams working on complex projects.

What happens when Scrum team becomes too large? ›

If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum Teams, each focused on the same product. Therefore, they should share the same Product Goal, Product Backlog, and Product Owner.

Why Scrum is a waste of time? ›

Scrum creates stress and anxiety in the productivity of individuals. This makes work sloppier can lead to mistakes since programmers usually perform at their best when involved in long-term interesting work instead of being pushed for a close deadline in an invasive matter. It simply does not work.

What happens if a Scrum team is too big? ›

If your Scrum team has become too large, consider facilitating a self-organization event to allow the Scrum team to organize themselves into smaller Scrum teams which together will continue to work together to support the same product, working with the same Product Backlog and the same Product Owner to deliver value ...

What are the 3 Scrum values? ›

Originally, the Scrum guide was based on the three pillars of Scrum. Those three pillars are- Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation. These pillars were ensuring the team to work collaboratively, adapt to the changes and respect each other's decisions during work.

What is the heart of Scrum? ›

At the heart of scrum, is the 'Sprint'. The sprint is a time-boxed iteration, typically ranging from 1 to 4 weeks, at the end of which, a potentially shippable product increment is delivered by the Development team.

What are the 3 questions of Scrum? ›

During the daily scrum, each team member answers the following three questions: What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any impediments in your way?

What is the 80/20 rule in scrum? ›

The Pareto Principle, commonly referred to as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of causes. Or, in terms of work and time management, 20% of your efforts will account for 80% of your results.

What is Scrum Master rule? ›

A Scrum master is a facilitator who ensures that the Scrum team follows the processes that they agreed to follow. Also, the Scrum master skillfully removes obstacles and distractions that may impede the team from meeting goals and is the liaison between the Scrum team and people or teams outside the Scrum team.

What are the 6 scrum principles? ›

The six principles are:
  • Control over the empirical process. In Scrum, the empirical process is based on observation of hard evidence and experimentation rather than theory. ...
  • Self-organization. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Value-based prioritization. ...
  • Time-boxing. ...
  • Iterative development.
23 Nov 2021

What are the 3 most important skills every scrum master should have? ›

Top Skills of a Successful Scrum Master
  • Share Experiences and Encourages Collaboration.
  • Introducing Engineering Practices.
  • Communication and Good Listening Power.
  • Acting as a Coach for Team Development.
  • Flexibility and Persistence.
  • Partnership with the Product Owner.
  • Wanted and Dispensable.
  • Optimism and Servant Leadership.

What are the 11 elements of Scrum? ›

The Elements of Scrum
  • The Product Backlog.
  • The Sprint Backlog.
  • The Increment.
  • The Sprint Goal.
  • Definition of Done.
  • The product vision.
  • The Burn-Down Chart.
3 Jan 2020

What are the 12 principles of Scrum? ›

The 12 Agile Principles: What Are They and Do They Still Matter?
  • Early and Continuous Delivery of Valuable Software. ...
  • Embrace Change. ...
  • Frequent Delivery. ...
  • Business and Developers Together. ...
  • Motivated Individuals. ...
  • Face-to-Face Conversation. ...
  • Working Software. ...
  • Sustainable Development.
3 Jun 2021

How do you put scrum on a resume? ›

You describe Agile Scrum experience on your resume by listing every position in which you used Agile Scrum methodology. You will then include all related education and certifications related to scheduling, like being a certified scrum master (CSM) or certified scrum product owner.

How use it in a sentence? ›

We commonly use the pronoun it as both a subject and an object pronoun:
  1. Don't drink the milk. It smells terrible.
  2. Has anyone seen my phone? I can't find it anywhere.
  3. That furniture is lovely. It isn't too expensive for us, is it?
  4. You know the flat with three bedrooms by the supermarket?
9 Nov 2022

Which is an example of a scrum? ›

For example: Planning on Mondays, from 8 am to 9 am, and Review on Fridays, from 4 pm to 5 pm. These are the principles of Scrum project management: short, cadenced cycles with alignment meetings (planning and review). This is the basics of the basics.

What can I say instead of a Scrum Master? ›

Other names for the scrum master include servant leader, coach, or facilitator.

Is there a word scrum? ›

The term 'scrum' itself is an abbreviation from scrummage (transferred sense of a “noisy throng”, “tumultuous crowd” or a “rabble”). Scrummage or scrimmage is an alteration of skirmish. Scrumming is often used to describe a tightly packed disorderly crowd.

What is scrum call or meeting? ›

The daily scrum, also called the standup, is a short daily meeting designed to let the team plan out its work for the day and identify any obstacles that could impact that work. Most teams hold these meetings in the morning and limit them to 10 or 15 minutes.

Why is it called a scrum? ›

The term scrum is borrowed from rugby, where it is a formation of players. The term scrum was chosen by the paper's authors because it implies teamwork. The software development term scrum was first used in a 1986 paper titled "The New New Product Development Game" by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka.

How do you explain scrum to a team? ›

A Scrum Team is a collection of individuals (typically between five and nine members) working together to deliver the required product increments. The Scrum framework encourages a high level of communication among team members, so that the team can: Follow a common goal. adhere the same norms and rules.

Why scrum is so important? ›

Scrum helps in significant rise in productivity and reduction in time to benefits as compared to the traditional waterfall processes. Scrum processes helps the companies to easily adapt to requirements that are changing rapidly, and create a product that matches the business objectives that are emerging fast.

How do you split 100 people in Scrum? ›

  1. Ask the Product Owner to assign the people to teams .
  2. Ask the developers to divide themselves into teams .
  3. Create teams based on their skills across multiple layers ( such as database , UI , etc. ) .

What is the maximum size of Scrum team? ›

According to the Scrum Guide, the development team should be between three and nine people and should have all the skills necessary to deliver product increments. The number of developers is usually dictated by the needs of the product and usually is between two and five developers in a scrum team.

Can Scrum team have 20 members? ›

Scrum Role Name:

Developer (or team member). The ideal size for a development team is between 3 and 9 people, not including the scrum master and product owner. Any smaller and the team couldn't accomplish enough each sprint. Any larger and communication becomes complex and cumbersome.

Why is Scrum so stressful? ›

Scrum is a very intense framework that runs in sprints. Like fast short distance running, it has clear starting and finishing points and the hard work in between. It feels like a competitive race, sometimes with pressure to deliver and being exhausted in the end.

Why do people not like Scrum? ›

End users hate scrum because they don't want an unfinished product. They don't want a bicycle when they're expecting a car. Some end users hate prioritizing. If they want something by a certain date but it may mean giving up something they requested, they have a hard time prioritizing.

Why is Scrum so hard? ›

The team decides how to take advantage of the team members' special skills and areas of expertise. For a team to do this effectively and successfully, the team has to adopt the five values of Scrum — Commitment, Courage, Focus, Openness, and Respect. This is what makes Scrum so hard to master.

When should you not do Scrum? ›

Here are 7 reasons why Scrum might not be suited for you.
  • Your environment isn't complex. ...
  • The environment of the Scrum Team doesn't accept the consequences of empiricism. ...
  • There is no way to deliver a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of a Sprint. ...
  • It's impossible to let the teams self-organise.
14 Aug 2019

Can Scrum team have 10 members? ›

A Scrum team should consist of less than 9 people. For large enterprise projects, the ideal Scrum team size is 7 people (product owner, scrum master, and 5 developers).

Can daily scrum exceed 15 minutes? ›

All team members should attend and they should stand during the meeting. The daily Scrum meeting should ideally not last more than 15 minutes. On the other no issues or concerns raised during the meeting are allowed to be ignored due to the lack of time.

What is the most important thing in Scrum? ›

A working product increment at every sprint.

This regular and frequent feedback loop between the customer and the team is the most important element of Scrum. It allows the customers to inspect it and reflect on their real needs.

What are the 7 Scrum artifacts? ›

The Seven Scrum Artifacts
  • Product Vision. The product vision is the long-term goal of the project or product. ...
  • Product Backlog. ...
  • Sprint Vision. ...
  • Sprint Backlog. ...
  • Definition of Done (DOD) ...
  • Product Increment. ...
  • Burndown Chart.
3 Mar 2022

Who is the father of Scrum? ›

Jeff Sutherland (born June 20, 1941) is one of the creators of the Scrum, a framework for product management. Together with Ken Schwaber, he presented Scrum at OOPSLA'95. Sutherland contributed to the creation of the Agile Manifesto in 2001.

What is Scrum quote? ›

Being Agile; piece by piece, step by step.” “To keep growing; keep evolving.” “Scrum refers to; orderly crowd or disorganized team.” “Synonyms for Scrum Ceremonies are what, when, who, how, why.”

Who starts daily scrum? ›

Team members are encouraged to stand in order to keep the meeting timeboxed to no more than 15 minutes. Any member can start the Daily Scrum / Stand-up as the Team should be prompt (i.e. no need to wait for stragglers) and respectful of each other's time.

What are the 3 questions of scrum? ›

During the daily scrum, each team member answers the following three questions: What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any impediments in your way?

What are the rules of a scrum? ›

The scrum must be stable, stationary and parallel to the goal-lines when they feed the ball; otherwise a free kick is awarded to the non-offending team. If the scrum is acceptable then the scrum-half must feed the ball into the scrum without delay.

What are the 3 most important skills every Scrum Master should have? ›

Top Skills of a Successful Scrum Master
  • Share Experiences and Encourages Collaboration.
  • Introducing Engineering Practices.
  • Communication and Good Listening Power.
  • Acting as a Coach for Team Development.
  • Flexibility and Persistence.
  • Partnership with the Product Owner.
  • Wanted and Dispensable.
  • Optimism and Servant Leadership.

What are the 6 Scrum principles? ›

The six principles are:
  • Control over the empirical process. In Scrum, the empirical process is based on observation of hard evidence and experimentation rather than theory. ...
  • Self-organization. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Value-based prioritization. ...
  • Time-boxing. ...
  • Iterative development.
23 Nov 2021

Why is it called Scrum? ›

The term scrum is borrowed from rugby, where it is a formation of players. The term scrum was chosen by the paper's authors because it implies teamwork. The software development term scrum was first used in a 1986 paper titled "The New New Product Development Game" by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka.

What makes a successful Scrum team? ›

A successful Scrum Team stands atop the pillars. The three pillars of Scrum are transparency, inspection and adaptation. Together these make it easier for the right decisions to be made at the right time.

What is purpose of daily scrum? ›

The daily Scrum is a meeting between team members to discuss its current sprint progress. It's time to discover if any adjustments to the sprint or the product backlog need to be made in order to achieve its sprint goal.

What is the most important Scrum meeting? ›

Sprint retrospective

Remember, the Agile philosophy calls for consistent assessment and improvement. To that end, the sprint retrospective ritual is one of the most critical of the entire Scrum framework.

What is basic scrum? ›

Scrum is a simple empirical process that enables teams to build products incrementally in iterations, to keep abreast of the changing market needs and align themselves to the organization's business goals. "Scrum is an agile process that allows us to focus on delivering the highest business value in the shortest time."

How many are in a scrum? ›

Scrums involve eight players from each team, who bind together and shove against one another. The shape of the scrum involves three rows; the front row, the second row, and the back row.

Is scrum a soft skill or hard skill? ›

Scrum masters possess a unique combination of skills that include: domain knowledge, technical knowledge, and soft skills. While all good scrum masters are excellent scrum coaches what differentiates the best from the rest is a winning blend of their soft skills.

Can I be a Scrum Master without IT knowledge? ›

These questions often come to mind when thinking about the Scrum Master's roles. The answer to should a Scrum Master have technical knowledge is No, a Scrum Master does not require to possess technical knowledge and anyone from a non-technical background can become a Scrum Master.

What is the first thing a Scrum Master should do? ›

Identification of Issues Early

As a new Scrum Master, you should have the awareness to know when things are not functioning as they should be and call out the process failure right then and there. A perfect example of this could be how a team practices their Scrum Events.

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