So I attended a Scrum session last week that was presented by Steve Porter. Excellent session that discussed many of the misconceptions or myths about Scrum. I came away wondering why I don’t profess to believe in Scrum. I honestly do follow many of the Scrum rituals, but I always seem to not be able to follow them completely. The processes I use always seem to be a Scrum-but implementation. I do Scrum except for this customization, I do Scrum except for this circumstance. Many of the myths we reviewed also seemed to be focusing on small misconceptions of what Scrum is. Not the large issues that could really derail a project – this frustrated me.
For example, we discussed whether the iteration planning should be 4 hours for a two-week iteration. My response is that it is nice to have a guideline, but things will take as long as they take. Sometimes we need to change based on the team and the stories.
To be honest with you, the one thing that has always bothered me about Scrum is the amount of time, effort, and care that focuses on the rituals themselves. There tends to be great detail in how long meetings should be, how long iterations should be, what a Product Owner should do, and what a Scrum Master should be. Early on for Agile projects, I think this type of direction can be quite helpful. But Scrum has always struck me as being overly precise and prescriptive. In many situations I would prefer a loose guideline that would provide me options as to how I could structure a project. It really feels wrong to try to control an Agile project to the extent the Scrum process does. I would much rather just allow my team to customize the process as they see fit.
One thing that resounded with me after reading “Creativity, Inc.” was the comment that to nurture a creative culture, we need to “hold loosely onto goals and firmly onto intentions”. If you allow me some creative license, I believe this can be translated to than we need to “hold loosely onto rituals and outcomes and firmly onto values”
Stated in this way, it becomes clear to me why I struggle with Scrum.
It always seems to me that Scrum places rituals ahead of values. Instead of focusing on values and discussing a variety of approaches, Scrum doesn’t spend enough time discussing values and spends more on the details of rituals.
To me it seems we have Scrumbled/Scrambled what Agile should focus on.
What to do?
Recently I’ve become more aware of Disciplined Agile. I believe it has great value that is not found elsewhere in the Agile Ecosystem:
- A Decision Framework that provides a structure on how an Agile project can sit inside the Enterprise and doesn’t just focus on the Software Development Team
- A Decision Framework that allows for the customization of the Agile project process based on the readiness of the Enterprise and project team. Disciplined Agile supports the following Agile processes:
- Agile Delivery
- Lean Delivery
- Continuous Delivery
- Program Management
- A Decision Framework that provides a prioritized list of rituals/deliverables to use though out the project
- This allows for the project team to choose and adapt to what fits best in each circumstance
- A home for an Architecture Role on the leadership of an Agile Project
- A Decision Framework that provides the right focus for lightweight models/documentation through out the project
I’ll be focusing on Disciplined Agile over the next few Blog posts. It has great promise in helping Agile take that next step into the Enterprise.