Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Scrum: just a tool, not a goal

This blog post is about a pitfall that can happen with any process and tool. The fact is that it can happen more easily with processes and tools that people feel strongly about.

Scrum is a process that, if implemented correctly, has great benefits. To name a few: dedicated project teams (they commit) giving high innovation speed, transparent progress and control by releasing every sprint, close involvement of the customer in projects, self learning effect of teams.

On the other hand it can easily happen that sprints are followed so rigorously, that during a sprint period no daily tasks are picked up by team members anymore. This needs to be managed carefully, because it can lead to a feeling of inflexibility and "slowness" towards customers and stakeholders, while that is not necessarily the case. At the same time it can be easily fixed in various ways:

  • Introduce shorter sprints allowing for a quicker response

  • Take some flexibility into account in a sprint, allowing for daily tasks without immediate effect on the sprint planning (in Scrum terms: you can lower the focus factor)


However, even more important is what is "between the ears" of every team member involved. If they are focused on the result, things will go fine. If they are focused on doing Scrum, your project will fail because you will not get the maximum result.

My big advice: implement Scrum as a useful tool to speed up and control projects while empowering the team members, but stay focused on what it is all about: focus on the potentially shippable product we are meant to deliver!

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