Scrum to Evolve Over Time?

I recently had a quick discussion with a project manager about how an entire industry has been made out of one position: The Project Manager. There are certifications, classes, seminars, books, consultants, coaches, and entire conferences built around the role. He sarcastically told me that the entire industry is built around one tool: MS Project. Ha! So how did it get to such a behemoth?

One could look at the numbers and see several ways why it has increased over the years: Marketing (external or word-of-mouth), certification and business value (perceived or actual), consumer demand as professionals pay for extra knowledge and skills (perceived or actual).

So is this the same way that Agile and the most popular methodology, Scrum, is headed?

While there has been a ton of online content talking about the merits of certification vs. de-certification, experience and actual value-add to clients, we recently came across an article that really caught our attention.

“We need to adopt (new practices), experiment with them, change and adapt them. And when they too ossify into unchallengeable truisms we will need to destroy them (Agile methods) too.”

A relatively recent article in PDF format pushed out by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland has solidified to the software development community that “Scrum” is as the PDF defines: A Framework.

“If you don’t like Scrum, we welcome and invite you to devise something else. Just don’t call it Scrum.”

Some could say that this position is very rigid and doesn’t allow for the inspect and adapt parts of the Agile Manifesto. We would disagree. What Ken and Jeff have put together is a fantastic framework (Keyword: Framework). Scrum doesn’t define everything and leaves the doors wide open for augmented methods that work well with Scrum framework.

Would it be an accurate statement that a business or team is using Scrum when it does not partake in all facets of the framework? Ken and Jeff would probably say, “No.”

Is there any room for inspecting and adapting to the Scrum framework?

We don’t have a PhD in processes, methods, software development, and all those other theories that Agilists talk about, so we’re not too sure. Still, the conversation may be worth talking about over a nice hot cup of coffee sometime with another.

What do you think? Will Scrum evolve with time?

9 Responses to “Scrum to Evolve Over Time?”

  1. Tony Askew
    December 14, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    I think some users (i will not call them practioners) have already begun to modify the scrum framework to a point that is no longer resembles scrum, therefore in my opinion while they may call it scrum and while they may think it’s scrum; it’s not. Not that I am siding with Schwaber and Southerland but scrum as it was developed IS how scrum should be used.

    I’ve coached companies who in the beginning would tell me, yes we are agile, yes we use scrum. Then once inside to observe their processes, they are not even close.

    As mentioned, agile/scrum can be modified, but after that do not call it scrum.

    In my experience, scrum is most successful when used in its most fundamental framework. You do not have to add the bells and whistles to make it work. I believe that it’s scrums simplicity that cause users to modify the framework and make it more complicated and cumbersome to use.
    Those users, do not yet have the experience needed to simply trust the framework, and in my opinion, trusting the framework as it was originally laid out is the disconnect for many. They cannot conceptualize how something so simple, can produce such outstanding results…..

    Yes, scrum will evolve, but it will evolve into something other than scrum…

    • peter
      December 14, 2010 at 8:30 am #

      I would agree with you here. Keep it simple, right? There’s (maybe) a reason why it’s a framework, and not a prescription. Keeping it simple and then adding or subtracting things as needed seems to be the best way for any different organization.

      • Tony Askew
        December 14, 2010 at 8:32 am #

        Yes Peter; keeping it simple has always been my approach and recommendation.
        Great article, and insightful, thanks for posting…

  2. Neel Lakshminarayan
    January 24, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    Nice article. Yes Scrum will evolve and it will probably be a version of “ScrumBut” – which by the way is probably not that bad.

    • peter
      January 24, 2011 at 8:43 am #

      Thanks for the link!

  3. Robb
    February 17, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    thanks for introducing me to the word “ossify”. :)

    • peter
      February 17, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      Ah, the joys of wordplay!


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