Scrum is for Teams, not Companies.

Scrum is not for everything. Especially not a company structure — There is so much more to a company than Scrum provides for and as such it should at least be modified to account for its shortcomings before being used for anything remotely outside of team environments.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Scrum. I think it is a great system that works for what it is designed to be used for — we’ll to what I believe that to be in a second — but the problem isn’t in the system… Its in the execution. Too many people are trying to apply Scrum to much larger systems than it is intended to be used for. I have seen it be exceptionally abused in the startup ecosystem. Everyone there is “Agile” and “Lean” and follows “Scrum”, and believes “Waterfall” is outdated, and some are even edgy and jumping on that “Kanban” thing Toyota’s been harping about for decades.

Suffice it to say, these systems are all good, but they aren’t catch-all band-aids designed to fixed and improve everything and each has its own limitations that need to be addressed before they can be properly implemented. Assuming that one can just pick a system and start using it effectively anywhere is silly. Unfortunately, that tends to be the state of affairs and very few entrepreneurs are aware the damage they are doing, and their investors don’t really know what the hell the team is like on the floor, they just recognise the words and in their heads hear, “industry standard”.

Scrum falls into this trap — it is everywhere. Popularised in part by Atlassian’s incredible suite of tools, Scrum, Kanban, and Agile have become the software industry standard. But there is a catch — Scrum is for small teams, period. Not company structures, not multiple departments, just small teams. There may be multiple different teams in the company and each may have a scrum methodology, but they should not be the same people — if the team is small enough that the same people are having multiple Scrums…they need a new system.

This suggests something though — whats outside of the Scrum? The answer, the business, the sales, the marketing, the other departments like accounting and customer relations. The Scrum needs to be connected to these somehow, but far too often that part gets neglected in small businesses and everything becomes part of the Scrum. Sure there is a “Product Owner”, but this product owner needs to be a part of the larger system — not be the larger system.

Each department may use a Scrum methodology within their individual teams, but as for the whole company— it should never be itself a Scrum driven enterprise— teams are the lifeblood of Scrum and when you bloat the team, the system fails to deliver the expected outcome as the overhead becomes too much to process. Yes, Scrum has an overhead, but what system doesn’t. This however can negatively impact a company that chooses to run its business this way. There are much better ways to handle those aspects, and if you check my next posts I will try to explain my methodology, Chimaera.

To be Continued (in My Agile Methodology — Chimaera)