The Dark Side of Scrum

How Agile became Scrum & what’s next …


Today Scrum is the dominant framework for managing projects in the software industry. While some of us are glad that it isn’t Waterfall (talk about low standards & picking the lesser poison) I deeply believe this is crazy. I seriously believe it is about time to freak out about it.

Every time I hear a Scrum fanatic say “you don’t see good results with Scrum because you don’t do enough of it …” I cringe.

I don’t even understand why people refer to Scrum as an agile framework. From what I’ve seen it often encourages the opposite of the ( very pragmatic) principles of the Agile manifesto.

Anyone remembers the first of the core values of the Agile manifesto?

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Manifesto for Agile Software Development

How did we end up with a dogmatic codified interpretation of Agile that is enforced by Scrum masters and celebrated as the dominant one and only way to manage software projects? ☹

*sigh*

What’s the Problem with Scrum?

Scrum Sith Master Darth Vader holding a Stand-Up Meeting …

In a nutshell Scrum adds unnecessary overhead & encourages product management anti-patterns that lead to bad decisions, frustration and a deceiving sense of control.

Yet we have so many people in our industry that try to apply a super dogmatic approach to all software development projects. No matter what the actual context and life cycle of the effort is.

This really drives me mad. Just thinking of all the software projects that would be better off without Scrum makes me sad. I don’t even want to think of the overhead cost this creates for the whole industry and all the projects that fail because of it.

Applying Agile in 2015

The Agile software development principles are as (if not more) relevant today as they were in 2001. I think it is time for an Agile renaissance.
Time to go back to the roots.

How can we apply Agile principles in 2015? Here are a few thoughts …

Thanks to new distribution methods & technological advances like continuous testing & deployment we are moving to ever shorter release cycles. This means that it makes sense to go beyond time-boxed releases & sprints towards continuous flow & pulling packages of value just-in-time.

These ever shorter release cycles also make it essential to make business, UX & marketing decisions on a continuous basis. Way faster than before (just-in-time), not only once every few weeks. This means that it makes sense to move away from silo-ed departments towards autonomous cross-functional teams.

Stand-Up meetings held by cross-functional teams are circling more around business value than before. It is crucial that these Stand-Ups are easy to understand for everyine involved. I think it makes sense to move from granular user stories that are reported on individually towards a higher Stand-Up abstraction level of MMFs/epics and walking the board.


I think it is about time for all of us to lead the software industry into the future by pragmatically applying agile principles to today’s world.
Who else will do it?

In the end all that matters is whether we deliver great products to our customers. Everything else is just a means to this end.

Don’t get trapped by dogma.

Please let me know what you think, we’re all in this together!


If you found this post helpful follow me on twitter where I tweet about Software Development & Product Management ☺

Also make sure to check out Blossom an Agile/Lean Project Management Tool I’m currently working on ☺