Project Management

Has Scrum outlived its usefulness? Should Scrum just go away?

From the Agility and Project Leadership Blog
A contrarian and provocative blog that goes beyond the traditional over-hyped dogma of "Agile", so as to obtain true agility and project leadership through a process of philosophical reflection.

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Has Scrum outlived its usefulness? Should Scrum just go away?

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Marcel Proust’s recursive novel: Why the concept of iteration in Agile is shortsighted

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It has been some time since I've posted on this blog as I've taken a break from PM social media and am transitioning and pivoting to a new career direction (what I refer to as an "A.P.E.E." - see my profile for an explanation).  After taking some time off and looking at "Agile" again, I'm not impressed.  In fact, it is getting tiresome.  I discuss this in the video podcast below with with Samir Penkar of The Future of Project Management site:

That is not to say that the principles, methods and frameworks are bad per se (with the exception of things like SAFe, which has become an even bigger bloated mess!), but with the industry, proponents and evangelists pontificating their same old platitudes about how great it is and how it will save us from the evils of Waterfall (The original paper by Joyce published in the 1970's, who is credited with the genesis of the Waterfall method, in fact acknowledged its limitation and advocated breaking things down as requirements change and iterating through them... Agile proponents are ignorant of this and think that their way of thinking originated in the mid-90's with the so called "manifesto". What a joke!) 

In any event, I think "reflective" agility is what we need, so as to obtain true agility and project leadership through a process of philosophical reflection to think, learn and grow in work and for that matter, life in general.  Nothing is more important than the project of one's life!  I'll be posting on this topic here regularly.

Posted on: February 08, 2017 09:10 PM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Possibly! Scrum is one tool/technique that leaders can pull out of their toolbox to target the challenges they face.

Using the toolbox analogy; there is no point using a screwdriver when the objective is to hammer in a nail; just as there is no point swinging a 8lb sledgehammer to smash the nail! One’s toolbox needs the right mix of tools to get the job done in a prompt time.

Agile cannot / should not be used in every situation. There is a reason that Waterfall techniques exist. I’m not sure I’d like to see some major infrastructure project (e.g. building a nuclear power station) being constructed using Agile techniques!

Whatever tool/technique is adopted (or combination of) it needs to be fit for purpose and be effective for those people using it and for the environment being affected.

A few years back I took over leading the delivery of a business change programme in local government; where for several years the repeated Waterfall projects had failed to deliver even a subset of the requirements. Adopting an Agile approach to some projects fundamentally shifted the attitude of those involved, delivered incremental changes (which were viewed as quick wins) that delivered immediate business value, and ultimately turned opponents into supporters. Agile (DSDM’s Agile Framework) proved incredibly effective in this complex change environment. But it took a major shift in mind-set and buy-in from those involved.

Scrum is recognised as the most common Agile methodology, but the concept of a project is non-existent. For it to be used more effectively it needs combining with another tool/technique that enhances the project delivery (like DSDM’s Agile Framework).

By the way, I was leading agile projects long before the "manifesto".

Neil, I agree with you. There is not just THE one answer to how a project is best delivered. Projects are always unique and it needs a method which fits the needs related to the nature of the project, the people, the culture, the scope and so on.
I also agree with Don in terms of the evangelism several people show related to Agile. They sell it as the magic stick which it is not. Projects can fail with Agile as the can fail with waterfall, and they can be successful with both. As you outline, the people need to use the right tools (hammer and screwdriver and all the others).
There is nothing really new in Agile. Nothing what would have been ever forbidden in the so called classic project management, so I am sure you applied seveal or all aspects even before the manifesto. Manifesto is a strange word but the principles described in it are good ones. SAFe has certainly good aspects. But that does not make it any better than all the other even several people try to sell it this way. We need to stop running behind any magic sticks, as there are no. It is always about people, work, leadership and passion and all the other small and big pieces necessary to make a project a success.

Thanks for sharing

Good insight from the members here.

Thanks for posting.

Thanks for sharing

Thank you for sharing Don, your article and video provided me with useful insight I hope to use going forward into my career. I am interested into the reflective/philosophical approach you touched on. Do you know of/have any articles or sources that dive deeper into that approach/perspective?

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