Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Defending Scrum Against Stupid Arguments

I'm not a big scrum promoter, but I am VERY familiar with scrum and have coached many teams and always been able to improve their success with the method to some extent. I've taught scrum. I don't have to love scrum (not more than XP for certain!) to see that it's getting a bad rap.

Ignoring advice to "never blog angry" I'm going to let the grumpy old man out for a minute, in hopes you'll hear what he has to say. 

Suggestion:  Before railing on how scrum doesn't work  you should be sure that what you're doing is scrum.

Some people say they're doing scrum because they have planning meetings, morning status meetings, and sometimes have reviews or retrospectives. But they're not sure why they're doing them, and these meetings just take time away from what would otherwise be potentially productive programming and testing time.

So, let's get back to the basics here.

Scrum is entirely based on
transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

That might not sound right. You might want some citations to back up what I'm saying, because it's very likely that you weren't given this talk when you started scrum.

See here:

Okay, three pillars. We get that, right?

Those pillars are not "planning meeting, standup meeting, retrospective."

They are (repeat with me) Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation. 

But if you say you are doing scrum, and you aren't getting what you want out of it and you're not looking at your process and adapting your practices to get what you want... well, then, you are not doing scrum.

Nor is it XP, or AUP or Crystal or DAD or FDD or Lean or Kanban. 

If you fail and you aren't using Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation then what you're doing isn't a scrum failure. It's a failure to use even the most fundamental and essential features of scrum.

If you've only sort-of almost tried parts of scrum (like the meetings), and have tried no other agile method, then you can't say "agile doesn't work" because your experience is limited to not really trying a single agile method.

Sadly, that is the core of most of the arguments I hear: "I didn't really try scrum, and it didn't work for me. Therefore all agile methods are fundamentally worthless."

Guide to argument:
  • If you want to hate on scrum, then go ahead. Get to know it, and give us the real dope on why it doesn't work for you. If you need help, you have only to ask.
  • If you want to hate on XP, go do it for a while and then shout your grievances to the rooftops.
  • If you want to hate on agile, the learn several agile methods and show us how following them all leads to likely failure.
  • Heck, go do some research and then report on project that use some methods or parts of methods and fail; how and why it happened. That would be mighty useful.
  • If you just don't want to learn or do any of them, that's okay too.  You can honestly argue "that doesn't make sense" or "I don't like it" or "I'm happy as I am." You are big enough say it, and we're big enough to hear it.
I'm okay with all of that.

All valid, informed arguments are welcome. I don't have a sacred cow or beloved method that I'm unwilling to part with. I'm an Anzeneer, not someone whose paycheck is tied up in scrum or agile promotion.

I'm just tired of arguments of the form "your whole family is unreliable, and I know because I once almost asked one of your cousins about it."

We can do better than that.

Any REAL argument will find open ears and a willingness to inspect and adapt.

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