A love letter to Scrum (sort of)
I love Scrum. I don’t love it because it helps teams to rapidly deliver value to their stakeholders, which it does. I don’t love it because it creates transparency in what works and what doesn’t, which it does. I don’t love it because it helps teams thrive on complexity rather than be defeated by it, which it does. I love Scrum because it is really about people. And about creating opportunities for meaningful human experiences.
I love Scrum because it is really about people
Sounds mushy and sentimental? Probably. But this is what drives me to engage with Scrum Teams and organizations that are trying to make Scrum work for them on a daily basis. It drives me to write about Scrum. To read about it. To fight against misconceptions and Zombie Scrum.
Where the love came from …
My love for Scrum is grounded in my own experiences. It started over twelve years ago, at NowOnline. Initially a two-man team (me and the owner, Thiery Ketz), it grew to over twenty people within a couple of years. I still have many, many fond memories of my time there (~nine years). A lot of those memories are anchored in the teamwork that was required to deliver working software every Sprint. It was at NowOnline that I experienced first-hand how amazing it is to be part of a real Scrum Team. The moment where we worked together to rapidly implement one feature at a time (‘swarming’). The moments where we scrambled to solve complex issues in our production environments — even at 3 AM. The moments where our team got in the car and drove cross-country to meet with the Product Owner or users. The moments where one of our shyer members stepped up to share something they’d developed or do a short presentation on a new framework. All those moments where we felt proud of the product that we were developing, and the quality of the codebase behind it. I even fondly remember the difficult moments. Like the heated debates over the best architecture. Or the friction with some members of the team, caused by vast differences in personality and style. No matter how hard it sometimes got, we always found ways to bond again - often over a beer or lunch.
The sum is more than its parts
There is something amazingly human about being part of a real team. It gives us the opportunity to transcend ourselves and contribute to something greater. Together we are stronger than as individuals. In more ways than one, it is like being part of a family.
There is something amazingly human about being part of a real team.
Someone recently compared this to what soldiers experience when they go to battle, and how they go through life remembering their unit and the bonds they formed there. There is a deeply human experience here; going through good and difficult times together, as you work together towards a shared goal. Having each other’s back. Knowing each others strength and weaknesses and other idiosyncrasies.
A source of pride and memories
Scrum is definitely not required for these kinds of experiences. But it certainly helps. It puts down a minimal set of rules and leaves the rest to the creativity, expertise, and intelligence of the people that make up the team. It helps teams find a shared purpose and work together to achieve it, tapping into individual expertise and experience. Every Sprint. It creates an environment where it is possible to have these amazing human experiences. To make memories and to form bonds with the people you work with on a daily basis. Because when all is said is done, we are on this planet for only a short time. Let’s make sure that our work is also a source of pride and of good memories.
That is why I love Scrum.