Scrum: let’s stop talking about the framework and start talking about the mindset
According to the ‘State of Agile Report’, 94% of companies currently use agile methodologies, 81% of which are based on Scrum.
But wait a minute, when we say that we use Scrum, we’re supposed to use a framework, not a methodology. The framework is there to teach you the game’s rules, not to show you how to win.
Imagine Monopoly; once you know the rules, you must determine the best way to win and create a strategy.
I’m always surprised when speaking with friends and people from different companies about how they believe they use Scrum simply based on having a daily standup! But actually, standups come from XP (Extreme Programming), a different agile framework. I keep this to myself, of course; I don’t want to come off as the agile smart-ass; instead, I ask:
And what’s the purpose of the daily for you?
They reply — Easy! We want to track that everybody is working, and if a person is free, we assign a task to them.
I take a deep breath and ask:
Do you speak about the sprint goal?
They reply — Do you mean the tasks we need to finish by the end of the sprint?
No, I mean the goal. The team’s main objective — the problem you’re looking to solve.
We have a lot of them! That’s why we include more than one task in the sprint.
And what’s the team’s main focus?
To finish everything we committed to completing at the beginning of the sprint.
And when do you consider something finished? What’s your DoD?
The criteria your team needs to meet so what you’ve developed is releasable.
We have a Testing Team for that. When they say it’s ok, it’s ok.
A team to test another team’s work?
Yes, they’re our specialists.
Even though I’m not an active practitioner, I think of the yoga principles in this situation… *OMMM*
Ok, ok, I understand. Let me ask you a different question: do you have a product vision? And a strategy to reach that vision?
Well, we have a lot of customers and a list of features that they expect us to have done by the end of the year.
Cool, so you’re like a feature factory?
Hey man, we aren’t a factory. We don’t build cars or washing machines.
Based on what you’re saying, it doesn’t matter what you call it; the truth is already there.
I could continue to no end, but you get the picture. With this silly but very real conversation, I want to show how easy it is to work with something that looks like Scrum, but with a bit of research, you’ll find that what you see is not what you get. It’s easy to set up events (not ceremonies, we don’t sacrifice goats) to keep track of time and continue with the circle. What’s not so easy is to start delivering value to your customers in every iteration.
What does value mean to you? How can you prove that what you do is valuable for your client? Do you set a hypothesis and then measure the results? Do you speak directly with your customers? Do you allow your teams to meet your customers to empathise with them and deliver value with a direct understanding of their context and expectations?
Thank you for reading along. To finish off, here are two things I try to keep in mind while the team is working on generating additional value for our customers:
- Have a clear vision and principles and then define (and clearly communicate) a strategy to accomplish it.
- Trust your teams. Give them problems to solve, not solutions; they are the experts, not you.
Keep calm and scrum on!