Scrum is not for me

By Joy Kendi
  Published 28 Oct 2016
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Transitioning to a new process is hard and change is often met with resistance. While introducing Scrum to teams, you will often have a few people raise a case against scrum. These are some of the reasons I’ve heard:

But it’s just another passing fad

The concept of “agile” may seem to be the rock star of processes in tech startups right now, but the concept began back in the 1980s. The first paper on scrum, ‘The New Product Development Game’ was published by Takeuchi and Nonaka in 1986. Much of the scrum framework conceived by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber in 1995 was developed using principles from that paper. Scrum has successfully been in use from then to date and can therefore be considered to be well past the fad phase. A survey conducted in 2015, on the state of agile states that 76% of distributed teams were practicing agile.

This is micromanagement

i) The product backlog grooming appears to control what developers work on and the story points seem to measure productivity of the team, therefore the manager is watching me.

On the contrary, Scrum advocates for self-organizing teams. Scrum masters do not assign tasks to team members, but instead allow them to implement the functionality selected for that sprint as they see fit. The scrum master’s role is not to “watch” you but to instead remove the impediments to this self-organization. The product backlog only replaces the traditional specification requirements document and allows entries to be made and prioritized in a way that adds value to the customer. This increases transparency in a project and leads to improved stakeholder satisfaction.

ii) Scrum’s daily standups and shorter project cycles lead to more interactions with my manager, which I view as micromanagement.

The case for daily standups is explained below

We’re too busy for daily standups

Daily standups are strictly time-boxed to 15 minutes. If your daily meetings are running for more than 15 minutes, you are doing scrum wrong. This short meeting is an opportunity for team members to answer these 3 questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you working on today?
  3. Are there any blockers impeding your progress?

By saying “I will do X today”, you make a commitment to yourself and the rest of the team to accomplish a self-assigned task, which consequently may increase productivity within the team. Sharing what blockers are impeding your progress also gives the scrum master (or anyone else in the team) a chance to remove these blockers as they arise. 15 minutes is fair time to spare to gain this benefit.

Are you using Scrum in your organization? What challenges have you had in implementing scrum? How have you gotten your team to embrace Scrum? Let me know below.

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