Scrum. Rinse. Repeat.

Though touted as a lightweight framework, figuring out all the nuances of Scrum can be complicated at times. Taking it back to its Agile roots, one of the key takeaways is “…to maintain a constant pace, indefinitely.” Call me crazy, but I don’t feel like the folks at Snowbird back in the day meant to follow a constant, never-changing process forever. It makes me wonder if the original intent somehow got lost over the years, and that maybe there’s some confusion around the bit about indefinitely.

Scrum is s’posed to be a way to develop, deliver, and sustain complex products. It suggests events like Sprint Reviews, Team Retrospectives, and Sprint Planning to accomplish these feats. Throw in Daily Scrums (some folks call ’em Stand-Ups), Backlog Refinement sessions, and repeat. But I’ma say it: Scrum was never meant to be the final solution. You should adapt. The Scrum Guide changes, and so should your Scrum. It’s all about process improvement, so your processes need to improve too.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin

Lemme back up a second. When I say to improve your Scrum, I don’t mean misguided improvements, watering it down because it causes organizational friction. It’s supposed to do that. Changing Scrum without understanding its value, or purpose (e.g. canceling Retrospectives because developers “could be coding instead,” or stakeholders skipping Sprint Reviews because they’re too busy) can cause frustration. That’s how ScrumBut , Zombie Scrum, and El Camino Agile were born. Scrum is supposed to be a pain in the ass, shine a light on bloated processes, and challenge the status quo. It’s your job to fix the dysfunction, not tiptoe around it. So when you’re presented with a new pair of wings, learn how to use ‘em first. Flying comes later. I’m looking at you, Icarus.

How’s that sun treating you, Ike?

Think of what Spotify did. When they succeeded at modifying Scrum in their context, everybody clamored to adopt that mug. But pump the brakes for a minute. DON’T COPY SPOTIFY! It worked for them, but you’re not Spotify. Scrum (nor their adaptation of it) was never meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution. No silver bullets; those are meant for werewolves, not software development.

Lemme be clear. I’d never advise anyone rolling with Scrum for only a handful of years to ditch, or remix it. Only mature teams, and organizations should even consider attempting it. Even then, only when clear improvements can be identified. At a certain point, you’ve gotta use the knowledge you’ve learned, and improve. Enact real, meaningful change; get better at making things. Wasn’t that the goal all along?

Learn Scrum? Yes. Get better at it? Most definitely. Follow it forever? Maybe not. After you’re good at it, uncover what in Scrum works for your organization, and what, if anything, should be improved, but in your context. I dunno… something about using the knowledge that comes from experience, and making decisions based on what you’ve learned.