Monday, July 25, 2011
Scrum: Helpful or Harmful?
I've recently written a couple of blogs with regard to "commitment" and "estimates". Both are two words I hear quite frequently at places that have "adopted" the Scrum framework, and are also frequently abused. Many of these places haven't taken the time to read the original scrum book, or usually any scrum book, or sometimes any book at all, or blogs, or even just the Agile Manifesto!
This leads to problems such as "sprint commitments" being in conflict with "sustainable pace" for a development team and many other general contradictions of the underlying values and principles of agile that were originally behind Scrum.
The basic problem I see with Scrum is also its benefit: it's very easy to adopt. Change some titles around, rename some meetings and *poof* we're an agile organization now! And some places operate under this assumption for a long time. Because of this, some members of the organization get a bad taste for agile, while others see some initial benefit but then are surprised when things slow down or relapse.
There are two reasons for this slowdown or relapse:
One is the missing technical practices. For the most part XP has taken care of this, but how well understood or implemented the XP practices are in places such as these is questionable.
The second, more insidious problem, is that no underlying culture change ever took place. No spirit of inspect and adapt or continuous learning was ever instilled. The 'why' behind the 'what' was never explored and understood.
So in the end, has Scrum helped or harmed? I find this still a tough question to answer. I do feel that Scrum did a great job of getting many of the ideas spread around. On the other hand, I find a lot of need to un-Scrum, or rather work to instill the missing values and practices now, with the added baggage of over coming the fact folks thought they already made a big change.
Posted by Matt Barcomb at 2:25 PM