Welcome back to another week at www.implementingscrum.com.Today I am writing about something I consider a real problem within our industry today. I will keep this entry specifically to Scrum; however, please note this can apply to any of the agile techniques out there today (for example, XP, TDD, Agile Modeling, Crystal, DSDM, and others).
As regular readers of this blog can hopefully tell by now, I am not a religious zealot about Scrum and do not subscribe to the thought of a Scrum Police Force. I regularly push the edge on some topics (I am finding this gets your attention!) but do not think Scrum is a Silver Bullet nor should it be applied to every Software Development Project on the Planet.
And I think you know this was coming (smile).
If you are going to use Scrum as one of the many available Agile Software Development frameworks on your project, please please please please please please please understand what you are getting yourself into.
When I teach Scrum (as a Certified Scrum Trainer), I teach things �by the book� and then talk about the differences I see sometimes in reality (you know, the real world you and I both live and work in!). At conferences around the world, I receive great feedback from a session I present named, �Scrum in the Real World.�
I know what �the book� says and what Scrum talks about as �best practices.�
So�. Why should I care (you may be asking yourself)?
The idea of, �Death by a thousand copies� is not something new to Scrum. It was taught to me by a gentleman named Michael Spayd (a great Organizational Change person!) and I do not know its true origin(s).
What does this mean?
Let�s say you are on a team which uses Scrum today. It really works for you and your current team. The team is so successful that the project is finally shut down (you have delivered enough value to the business — congratulations!).
You move to a brand new team.
Starting from scratch. Some people on the new team have been watching your �old team� and may be resentful at its progress. Now� someone is telling them, �You should use this Scrum thing because it worked so great for such-and-such a project.� You are excited coming off a great team that was high performing.
You are the only person with any experience using Scrum on the new team. And, you are telling everyone on the team how great it is and how, �On the old team, we did it this way�.�
Hmmm� maybe the old �this way� included the team skipping doing a Burn Down Chart to track velocity. Maybe your stand-ups used to take 30-45 minutes.
And� you �push� these �old� ideas of Scrum onto the new team.
But wait. The �new team� has just finished getting some initial training on Scrum and wow� they say� we really do need a Burn Down Chart and the meetings should really take 15 minutes.
You entice them to do things the �old way� you did things (no matter what the reason) with your old team. You reason, �It worked for us, it can work for them.�
Zoom ahead three projects if you will for a moment.
People from the current �new� team have seeded about nine other teams at this point. Scrum training is a thing of the past since your organization now �knows what it is doing� and has this Scrum thing down pat.
Things start going wrong.
People start looking at Scrum and calling it useless.
You are no longer delivering working software at the end of each iteration. Your iterations are now eight to ten weeks long. Retrospectives? What are they? The stand-ups have devolved into three meetings per day to get �input� from senior management on your team. Managers are parachuting in on a daily basis with �solutions� for the team. They start throwing bodies at the project, because, don�t you know, adding people and resources to a late project helps.
Is this happening today?
So what does this have to do with, �Death by a thousand copies?�
I get called in (pretty regularly these days, yikes) by managers and teams who may have been using Scrum in their organization for a while.
I start asking the basics about Scrum.
�Sure Mike, of course we are using Scrum here. We are the experts on it,� they say to me.
I look around.
Whatever framework they are using today — as a result of people cutting corners and skipping basic principles and practices of Scrum — looks nothing like Scrum anymore.
People are running around saying, �Scrum is killing our organization.�
Are you in this situation today?
Are you headed that way?
May 14, 2007