The End of Scrum and Scrum Teams?

What Killed Waterfall Could Kill Agile Scrum

Robert C. Martin has written a very interesting and compelling piece on the “elitism” that plagued the waterfall movement and certification and how it is coming back in the form of Scrum.

While we certainly hope that this won’t happen for Scrum and Scrum teams, the recent issues plaguing the Scrum Alliance and Scrum in general seem to be taking it’s small toll on the Scrum community at large.

Take a look see and read it for yourself. You may find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with it. Again, we hope that this won’t happen for Scrum.

From the article:

“There were the elite Architects, Designers, and System Analysts who did the real engineering by satisfying the first two phases of the waterfall.  And then there were the grunts who actually had to make everything work in the final phase. When the project got behind schedule, it was the grunts who worked overtime.  When the project failed, it was the grunts who bore the blame.

This was a great deal for the elite Architects, Designers, and Analysts! Who wouldn’t want a job like that?  You have the authority to specify everything, and none of the responsibility to actually make it work.  You get to command a high-salary, the respect of your peers, and the envy of the masses; and there’s almost no way you can fail.  When bad things happen, you can always blame it on the programmers.”

Continuing on about Scrum:

“Who was it who lined up to take the CSM courses?  Was it Scrum team members who wanted to help their teams?  Was it programmers and testers?  Yes, there were certainly some CSMs who came from existing teams.  But the vast majority of CSMs have a project management background.  In essence they have added CSM to the PMBOK.  They have become CSMs so that they have the authority to manage Scrum teams.

This was never the intent.

Indeed, the role of Scrum Master is considered so important, that it requires certification to obtain.  If your Scrum team does not have a Certified Scrum Master, then something must be wrong with you.

When a Scrum team succeeds, it is the CSM who steps forward to receive the award (on behalf of the team, of course).  But what happens when a Scrum team fails?  Is it the CSM who steps forward and falls on his sword?  Does the CSM take the lashes and protect the team?”

So what happens when the revolution comes? Martin hopes that it won’t take all of Agile down with it. Unfortunately, many people, when they think of Agile, they immediately think Scrum. They need to understand the difference.

What’s our take on this?

Interesting thoughts around the potential (future) demise of Scrum. Waterfall was a process that needed changing. It would make sense that Scrum needs to be flexible and ‘agile’ and change as well.

[HT: CleanCoder]

17 Replies to “The End of Scrum and Scrum Teams?”

  1. I think this fear is normal due to recent news. But the movement is bigger than the agile Scrum Alliance and even bigger than Scrum.
    Scrum was never unanimous.

    But Scrum is a framework and thus flexible. I believe he can easily adapt. Here in Brazil, there are companies like Caelum, that led this adaptation to a high level, eliminating even SMs.

    Best Regards and congratulations for raising the discussion.

      1. Well, I mean more that the original engineering paper that introduced it included it as an anti-pattern!

        From Wikipedia, the infallible font of all human knowledge:
        “The first formal description of the waterfall model is often cited as a 1970 article by Winston W. Royce,[1] though Royce did not use the term “waterfall” in this article. Royce presented this model as an example of a flawed, non-working model”.

        However, you are right – scrum and agile are massively in danger now because they were not adopted properly by most people, the projects are now failing because they just didn’t get it, and agile is the scapegoat. This is why there is the whole “post agile movement” to try and correct this. Utterly ridiculous really!

  2. *sigh*

    I think the biggest problem with “Scrum” is that it became a label. Teams would “scrum” by having a morning meeting and not much else. Management would use the idea of Scrum to avoid necessary requirements engineering. I think it’s just been co-opted by managers and undisciplined coders and the shark has.. unfortunately.. well and truly been jumped.

    I’d hail a return back to XP, with it’s focus on coding practices. Or for Agile’s roots in Lean be exposed and relatedly back to things that actually worked – the old car analogy.. if we built cars like we build software things’d be a lot worse on the road, but if we built software with the ideas that do work at places like Toyota things would be a lot nicer on this side of the fence.

    Agile is dead.. Long live Agile.

    1. Nice analogy here. Scrum in many facets has just become a “buzz” word. I agree. It may be good time to get back to the basics… Isn’t that what the original manifesto was all about?

  3. Very Nice article!
    I think the root cause of the problem is coming from being religious about any process (scrum, xp or whatever).
    I mean, taking the theory and applying ‘as it is’ is the common mistake. Scrum requires agility, flexibility and adapt into different situations.
    I believe in practice based methodologies which doesnot give a room to ‘no-gravity’ managers and/or scrum masters.

    Team has the potential, team defines, team leads, team succeeds or fail. Scrum team needs to be empowered, and whoever is leading the team (coach, SM or whoever) needs to lead by example and get involved in the business and teach & learn the mastery with the team.

    I don’t think that the same methodology would work everywhere.
    I would suggest to harmonize Scrum+XP in global perspective and let people create local versions of them, each requires calibration based on local dynamics and environments.

    Another problem is also about Definition-of-Done, which also makes scrum look bad. not because of the methodology but caused by the people who applies only theory like a religion.

    Let us not forget that Scrum is inspired by Rugby, and moving as a team applying different strategies on different dituations aaand success criteria is to score & win!
    Like us, success means product is in hands of customers and live!

    a lot to say, but I’ll stop here.

    Let the fun begin… 😉

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