The real danger for Scrum

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Scrum community is now debating – how Scrum Alliance and Ken Schwaber and certification programs and trainers and all kinds of related stuff will play out or should look like. In the meantime Scrum is in a real danger, which I don’t think is being noticed.
This danger for Scrum and community that grew around it over the years is not in the politics and debates, but in their fallout and the “me-too” frenzy (everyone desperately wanting to write and speak about Scrum and contribute or – more frequently – appear to): Scrum risks being diluted in the babbling of multiple voices each presenting his own version. If anything can be called Scrum and if things ranging from metrics to back rubs can be claimed to be part of Scrum, then Scrum ceases to mean anything.

Why it is a danger? Because Scrum’s biggest advantage over the years has been that it was a very definite, distinct method. Scrum meant three defined roles, three defined meetings (later expanded to four by adding retrospectives), two artifacts and a bunch of rules. There were Ken and Jeff and the organization they created defining what it is, there were trainings available and certificates (no matter how weak) backing them. It was therefore a “product”, something you could take, apply in your company and even check if it was done right.

Figuratively speaking Scrum was standing out like a rock in the cloud of “agile”. Agile is a philosophy, an approach – Scrum is something that is rooted in this philosophy you can take and use without becoming a philosopher.

And that clarity was, I think, the important part of Scrum’s success – the reason why most agile teams use Scrum now (or at least try to). If Scrum looses its focused clarity it would slide back into obscurity and irrelevance, back into the agile “cloud”.

Ken was trying to fight Scrum being diluted with his campaign against ScrumBut, and he is still doing it. Scrum Alliance is, as far as I can see from the lineup for the last Scrum Gathering, sliding towards doing everything agile, even everything “soft skill”. This is what community seems to like, maybe being bored with “pure” Scrum. But it is not what businesses will like when looking for methods to use to improve their processes. Businesses need solutions delivering results, philosophies they are less keen about.

In the meantime PMI is still the winner in the business world because it is still seen as a respectable provider of serious, business centered methodologies – and “fad boys” of the Internet Web 2.0 community are already abandoning Scrum in favor of Kanban or Lean. This may be good in the grand scheme of things, but if Scrum community wants to stay relevant it should refocus on providing the clear cut “product” Scrum was until recently.

To that end healing internal animosities, abandoning “soft skills” (including pure nonsense like my “favorite”: back rubs on daily scrums) and shelving dreams about conquering other industries would definitely help. Scrum practitioners and trainers should focus on helping teams deliver great software using Scrum – focus on what we should be able to do best, on our “core” and make sure we really succeed there.

  1. Mick Maguire

    Andy,Great post! You have summed up much of how i feel about Scrum right now. I have battled with the frenzy and debates over certification etc. many times recently on LinkedIn… I agree it does put the process in danger.

    Many thanks!

    Mick…

    Reply

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