Categories: Agile, business transformation, Development Team, Product Owner, Scope Creep, Scrum, Scrum Master, Scrum Team
With Scrum being by far the most influential and pervasive framework for delivering Agile projects, I thought it might be interesting to find out why Scrum has been so successful, any challenges it may face when scaling, and how it might evolve in the future.
To investigate these topics further, who better to ask than the co-founder of Scrum itself. Ken Schwaber, who also founded and chairs Scrum.org, graciously accepted my request to answer the following questions.
1. When you first created the Scrum framework, did you believe it could become as widespread as it has?
No, I didn’t. I knew it worked for me at the organizations and on the projects where I used it. I knew waterfall was draining the life out of software development and angering our customers, so I thought I would share it with others. But, as life is very complex, who can ever predict outcomes (empiricism of Scrum).
2. Why do you believe Scrum is the most popular framework for delivering Agile projects?
It is very simple. Every person adds their interpretations, so they can use it in their context and it becomes pretty universally applicable. It is just really, really hard to use; Scrum makes transparent facts that are contrary to human nature’s desire for good things to happen. Scrum sometimes makes really unpleasant things visible. The choice is to figure out what to do to solve the problems, or to “modify” Scrum so the unpleasantness is again hidden.
3. What do you see as the major challenges to scaling Scrum at the enterprise level?
Enterprise cultures are very different from Scrum’s culture. The Scrum Master has to make Scrum work as well as possible, regardless. For instance, a customer demands that something be done by a certain time. Scrum may disclose that is impossible and trade-offs have to be made. The power structure in a hierarchical organization (only tell me good news) often finds that unacceptable. So the customer is caught between desires and possibility.
4. Should the name Scrum Master be changed to Scrum Coach to adhere more to a servant-leader relationship?
I think that is a bad idea.
5. How can non-development projects benefit from Scrum?
Whenever something changes, that is development. When water acidifies, that is the water developing from one state to another. To understand the greatly needed applicability of Scrum, read Tomas Friedman’s book, “Thank You For Being Late.” Our world is getting more complex, not less. Scrum is needed more, not less. Scrum is a way of dealing with the significant cultural upheaval that we are going through.
6. Where do you see Scrum 5 years from now?
To deal with greater complexity, we may develop infrastructures that describe how to manage risks and better tolerate R&D. Scrum will be right in the middle as meaningful possibilities emerge.
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I wish to thank Ken Schwaber for his great insights, and Lindsay Velecina at Scrum.org for her assistance during the Q&A process. The world is a little wiser about Scrum as a result.
Thank you for your interest in the Scrumptious blog. If you have any ideas for Scrum topics, please message me here. Until next time, remember, projects can be Scrumptious!