[Alternate Title: “If I have to talk about the Scrum Alliance any more, I’m going to vomit”]
I’ll try to be brief with his arguments:
- “Why there is such widespread failure is no mystery to us. We’ve been studying why Scrum works and doesn’t work for years”
- “I’ve mentioned Scrum because when we see this problem, Scrum seems to be particularly common as the nominative process the team is following. “
- “Now many people who call me already have Agile in place (they say), but they’re struggling. They’re having trouble meeting their iteration commitments, they’re experiencing a lot of technical debt, and testing takes too long.”
- “Does Scrum really fail to achieve its promise 3 out of 4 times? I am afraid so. I have heard that at the last Scrum gathering this number was bandied about and although it was somewhat arbitrarily selected, seems to have won general acceptance.”
- “As XP / Agile / Scrum have become more popular, many teams and individuals have wanted to do them, or “be” them. This has led to a school of Agile methods that wants to be called “context dependent”. The idea is that whatever brand of Agile is under discussion is “too rigid” and “doesn’t fit our context”. So we have to modify Agile because God knows we can’t modify our context.”
If the 75% number was way off-mark, there would be many CSTs jumping to counter it. Heck, even the Scrum Alliance doesn’t counter it. It’s an accepted fact of life. And that’s the troubling thing – it isn’t the number, but the reaction to the number – one of, “Oh, yeah, well, we know”. (And yes, I know some of the quotes above mention agile. I’ll deal with that in a minute)
2) “But what if we instead asked “How many of those who tried Scrum or Agile techniques saw at least some positive improvement?” or “How many teams were in on the whole at least a little bit better off for exploring Scrum?” I bet the answer would be much different.”
Read this. Go on. If you don’t want to read it, look at this quote:
What does a high touch Scrum team do? A high touch Scrum team does
many things to incorporate touch into its daily practice. High touch
- Hold hands during the Daily Scrum.
- Give each other standing backrubs at the start of the Sprint
- Hug each other at the end of the retrospective
How many teams would be, on the whole, a little better off for exploring that? I bet most would be. And what does that tell us?
Because Scrum isn’t about making people “a little better off”:
- “Over fifty organizations have successfully used Scrum in thousands of projects to manage and control work, always with significant productivity improvements.” (from Control Chaos)
- “With Scrum, these impediments are prioritized and systematically removed, further increasing productivity and quality. Well-run Scrums achieve the Toyota effect: four times industry average productivity and twelve times better quality.” (from Scrum Alliance)
But wait. That last quote is so great, because of what is on that page.
Successful Scrum implementations have many benefits for teams and management. Scrum does, however, require a change from the status quo.
These results can only happen, though, when leadership commits to the required changes: teams that adopt Scrum must move away from command-control and wishful-thinking-predictive management.
“On the surface, Scrum appears to be simple, but its emphasis on continuing inspect-adapt improvement cycles and self-organizing systems has subtle implications.”
And what are those implications?
Oh. Yeah. That’s the end of the page. Guess you have to figure that out on your own.
3) “The Scrum Alliance is NOT a company that has to choose between a narrow vertical industry or a very specific generic offering. Rather, it is a formalized body that supports an organic movement to “transform the world of work”. It is a big tent that provides tools and products to equip any one person’s niche within that movement. Whether offering an article for how to interact with a large company PMO, or supporting a local user group consisting mostly of GUI designers, the SA responds to what its members ask for.”
I covered that in my last post.
4) “However, I do not think the SA’s execution issues point to having the wrong mission.” – Unfortunately he doesn’t say what it does point to. But I can tell you.
Let’s say I create a new digital camera. People who use it are blown away at how much better it is than every other camera out there. But some people, in fact, many people, aren’t seeing the same results. And when they go to my company’s web site, I tell them:
“The CFmera is a revolution in camera design. However, to use it, note that you have to rethink what it means to be a photographer. The way you shoot pictures has to change, and everything you know about what constitutes being a good photographer is applied differently. If you don’t do these things, then you won’t get the results from the CFmera. Sorry about that.”
Is that their problem, or mine? I don’t offer them any guidance, any pointers, any suggestions. If my goal is to transform the way people capture memories, well, that doesn’t really seem to help, does it?
Scrum does good in the world. Even Alan Shalloway admits that. I’m not saying that Scrum is at fault.
What I am saying is that the Scrum Alliance is at fault. They say themselves that to adopt Scrum you have to alter the fundamental tenants of management and organizational behavior. Right there, on their web site. But I’m not seeing trainers updated with the latest advancements in Organizational Behavior, or Change Adoption. CSMs aren’t getting paths to how to adopt it in their organization and how to deal with the fallout (some CSTs do this, I know). And this is all in the context of software development, where we have a very strong base, and a fairly good understanding of the issues involved.
But Jesse’s key point was that the Scrum Alliance can do both a Depth and Breadth approach. I disagree. It needs to choose. Either it’s about Scrum, the framework, with no underpinnings in software, or it’s about software and helping build that out. I actually prefer the former, and having industry-specific groups split out, each that can control the requirements for their subsegment.
Scrum is a good framework. And it’s a stable one – it doesn’t change. That means that the Scrum Alliance mission isn’t to make Scrum better, but help organizations adopt it. And since they say that to adopt Scrum you have to change things – fundamental things – about your organization, doesn’t it make sense that most of their work would be in enabling people to understand how to make that change?
It does to me. Because if we want to “Transform the World of Work” we ain’t gonna do it by sticking people who have no authority to make change or understand of how to introduce change through a 2-day class and collecting some fees. We do it by a concerted effort to change how businesses think about delivering software, interacting with customers, and running their entire company. That’s change, and that’s power, and that’s something that could theoretically be within the grasp of a money-making machine like the Scrum Alliance.
And an organization doing work like that can gladly have my fifty bucks.