A Simple Analogy for a Simple Process

Mike Dwyer has written up a very nice analogy between the simplicity of the Scrum method and the simplicity of the waltz.

I used the waltz analogy a while ago in Scrum development, partially because I was looking at Tim Lister on the cover of Waltzing with Bears and partially because it is such a simple set of rule to dance by and mostly because of the last chick flick I was noble enough not to grab the switcher on was all about ball room dancing.

Now wouldn’t you know that the two remaining grey cells in my head bumped into a synapse – BAM Headache!

First for all of you who escaped taking dancing lessons the waltz is an extraordinarily simple dance. 1,2,3 1,2,3 right foot, bring left foot to right foot, one step to right. Bring left foot to right. Repeat.

This means Tim and the Bear can do it, rhythmically challenged people men like me can too and so can the folks in Ballroom Dancing. All are called waltzing – except; One is what you do to read about risk, one is beaten into you at dance class, and one is a form of competition that combines Olympic caliber training with the clothes racks from Vegas.

What makes them all the waltz? 1,2,3 1,2,3 right foot, bring left foot to right foot, one step to right. Bring left foot to right.

What makes Jeff’s, or Glen’s, or my use of the same principles of classic Scrum not Scrum? product backlog sprint backlog, product owner defined DONE. Timeboxed iterations, Daily Update, Impediment resolution, we all have a product backlog, we all have a product owner driven way to select work for a timebox, and we all communicate daily the critical information to each other and those that are concerned. Most of all we all measure by a simple DONE or NOT based on Product Owner acceptance.

Break anyone of these simple rules and you are not just failing at Scrum you are failing period. Goes for waltzing as well as Scrum.

Oh yes there is one more thing that waltzing and Scrum have and that is a rhythm capable of maintaining the dance at different tempos for different levels of skill. This way everyone enjoys what they are doing, does the job to the expectations of the Product Owner, and has the opportunity to improve.


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