Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scrum is a world-view

I've been thinking about how to help a colleague get his arms around a Scrum implementation that seems to be out of control and rife with what my friend Ken Schwaber refers to as "ScrumButs". During our conversation, I cringed several times when reference was made to their "version" of Scrum as well as their version of "TDD". Yikes. I think that this is a common trap that managers fall into when trying to adapt their organizational culture to become more "Agile". The bottom line is that if you're adopting Scrum because of business value motivators like profitability, product turn rates, cost control, or to compress/reduce feature release windows then I would tell you that your heart is in the wrong place and that you really need to re-assess what the value proposition is for implementing Agile software development methodologies/techniques. In my opinion, being successful at Scrum requires more of a change in personal and managerial philosophy than it does any type of  technical or procedural change. You see, I really struggle when I use the term "methodology" in the same sentence as Scrum because it's not really a methodology...nor is it a technique....framework...technique...bleh. It's all of those and none of them at the same time. Scrum is a philosophy. It's a world-view relating to managerial interaction with those involved in production. If you want to know how to succeed at implementing Scrum, I would recommend that you start with a read of Ken Blanchard's book titled "The Servant Leader". Once you have your heart in the right place, you've put aside the "command and control" mindset and embraced the TPS/Lean concepts of empowering and enabling your staff to make decisions, and resolved to give the power to make those decisions to the team, now you're really ready to tackle the hard stuff like finding, training,and getting on the same page as the Product Owner and starting down the Scrum road. Much like political or religious world-views, If you can't put aside, or your organization isn't structured to let you put aside these fundamental beliefs and opinions about people, roles, and responsibilities, you really need to abandon the idea of implementing Scrum/Lean/Agile until you can come to terms with what it means to lead people versus what it means to manage them.

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