James Shore wrote a great post about the problems he is seeing with agile adoptions that start with Scrum called the Decline and Fall of Agile. Please please please (pretty please) read it before you read what I am about to write here! I agree with what James is saying 100%.
Now, let’s hear the truth:
Scrum is really really hard! Doing Scrum well is like quitting a heavy, long addiction (I think). Don’t ever make the mistake that because Scrum is simple (lack of complexity) that it is somehow therefore easy (lack of effort).
Doing Scrum properly takes:
sacrifice – sacrifice of our ways of thinking, our habits, our comfort
wisdom – wisdom to see the small improvements while struggling with the humongeous ones
and most importantly,
truthfulness – honesty to see and say the truth, integrity to act on the truth, detachment to avoid believing in what you want instead of what is real, courage to continue even when things aren’t perfect or easy
Scrum depends heavily on commitment both at the small scale of an individual committing to a small piece of work, and at the large scale of an organization committing to real deep cultural change. Without that entire spectrum of commitment, it is unlikely that adopting Scrum will be anything but the latest fad imposed by management or done stealthily by staff.
But Scrum isn’t the only “agile” method. As James points out, the engineering practices of Extreme Programming such as pair programming, test driven development, continuous integration, evolutionary design and refactoring are all critical. Do they have to be done and perfected first? No. But eventually, if you are using Scrum to build software (not everyone is), they do have to be done.
As a Certified Scrum Trainer, I have always emphasized how Scrum is hard, and how being a ScrumMaster is very very very hard. This is why my training class is three days instead of two. This is why I don’t encourage anyone to come to it, only people who will be ScrumMasters. This is why after the first day of my course, most students are actually feeling quite discouraged!!! It takes three days minimum for people to understand and process the incredible shift in mental model. And of course, even after three days, it is oh so easy to revert back to our normal thinking habits.
So what should people do? Do Scrum by the book. Yes that means putting a whole team in a single room. Yes it means that you have to really remove obstacles, and fast! Yes that means that your teams actually have to be cross functional (and not just in the weak sense of multi-skilled developers). Yes that means that it – will – take – a – long – time – to – get – it – right!!!!
And please, it is so worth getting help beyond just the training! If you think that I’m just trying to promote my own coaching services, please go check out:
They all have great coaches and I would absolutely way rather see you succeed than believe that I am just trying to promote my own business.