Scrum is not a process

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November 3, 2015

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Once I had the pleasure to work in a company, that decided to introduce a global development process. This global process was introduced at each subsidiary, that took part in the development of new products. It didn’t matter if it was a pure software product or simply a piece of hardware without a single piece of electronics. One size fits all. Of course, it was possible to tailor the process to your needs, but in the end, you had to follow about 90% of the process elements. This lead to insanely long product development cycles. Even quite small products ran at least six months, because of the overhead the process introduced. Additionally, the higher complexity of software projects was completely ignored. As you may have guessed, after reading these lines, I believe this is a very bad idea. Every process that ignores its context is foredoomed.

Which leads me to the main part of this article: Scrum. I’m quite happy that Scrum itself is NO process at all (even if you get thousands of hits on Google by using this term), but a framework you can adapt to your needs and context. Yes, Scrum defines roles, rules, and some artifacts, but how to implement it is only roughly explained and leaves a lot of freedom for creativity and adaption. For sure there are some exceptions, e.g. the exact ordering of the Scrum meetings with the Sprint Review at the end of a Sprint, but that that’s it. The rest is up to you. In the end, this is wat makes it so difficult to master, as you can read in the official Scrum Guide. Scrum defined the WHAT; the HOW is up to the team implementing it. On one hand, this is a big chance, but also one of the main reasons why so many Scrum implementations fail. Just because you are “doing” all of the Scrum meetings and create all defined artifacts, doesn’t mean you get all the benefits you expect from Scrum. For that, you need an agile mindset and thorough understanding of the ideas behind Scrum.

Take your chance and make Scrum to YOUR process. Take the framework that is defined and adapt the actual content to YOUR context. Experiment, inspect and adjust based on the collected, empirical data. Life is an experiment. If you keep the 12 principles of the agile manifesto in your mind, you are already on the right way. These principles are often forgotten, but will lead you on your journey. Never make the mistake, to “copy and paste” your Scrum implementation to a different context. This does not work and never will.

About the author 

Marc Löffler

Marc Löffler ist Keynote-Speaker, Autor und Mentor für passionierte Scrum Master. Er befasst sich schon seit 2005 leidenschaftlich mit agilen Methoden, wie z.B. Scrum, Kanban oder eXtreme Programming. Bevor er mit dem Thema Agilität in Berührung gekommen war, hat er als zertifizierter Projektmanager (IPMA) bei Firmen wie Volkswagen, Siemens und EADS erfolgreich multinationale Projekte geleitet. Mit Begeisterung hilft er Unternehmen dabei, agile Werte zu verstehen und genau die Form von Agilität zu finden, die zum jeweiligen Unternehmen passt. Dabei nutzt er sein PASSION Modell, um die jeweilige Situation zu analysieren und sinnvolle nächste Schritte hin zur passionierten, agilen Organisation zu definieren. Er liebt es, neue Einsichten zu generieren, und unterstützt Unternehmen dabei, Probleme aus kreativen, neuen Blickwinkeln zu betrachten. Seit September 2018 ist er zertifizierter Professional Speaker GSA (SHB) mit der besten Keynote seines Jahrgangs. Im Jahr 2014 erschien sein Buch „Retrospektiven in der Praxis“ beim dpunkt.verlag. Im Jahr 2018 folgte das Buch „Improving Agile Retrospectives“ bei Addison Wesley. Im Februar 2022 folgte dann das Buch "Die Scrum Master Journey" beim BusinessVillage Verlag.

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