December 18, 2017 // By Paul Grizzaffi
From 1979 – 2003 General Electric used the slogan “We bring good things to life”. The first few times I heard it, I thought it said “we bring good things to light”; I assume that was because my major exposure to GE at that time was via their light bulbs. I did know enough to know that bringing something to light was to bring that thing into the open. It kind of made sense to me at that time.
Back to the present…
I often see and hear Scrum being hailed as a solution to problems. It will make our software better, we will go faster, our customers will be happier. While those things are surely possible, I don’t think those things are what Scrum is about. One thing that I read early on about Scrum and rings true in my experiences is that Scrum doesn’t really solve any of our problems; it does, however, help expose those problems so that they can be addressed. Thus, the play on words in the blog title: to me, Scrum brings our bad things to light, and that’s a good thing.
One of my favorite sayings about Agile and Scrum goes like this: Scrum is something we do, Agile is something we are or aspire to; this saying was adapted from a very similarly worded quote, the origin of which I’ve forgotten (apologies to the originator). I bring up this point because I often see Agile conflated with Scrum. From my experience, Scrum is a framework for planning; being Agile is the ability to “quickly” adapt to emergent requirements and changing business requirements.
In the software environments I’ve been in for the last 10 years or so, these “evolving” requirements have been a business reality. The markets change very quickly and keeping up with the Joneses, or beating the Joneses to the punch, can make a material difference in how the company performs, or indeed if it survives at all. The way Scrum planning works makes it a great candidate to expose those areas where we have difficulty in being responsive to new requirements. It is then up to us to decide how or if we will address those areas.
Some teams will see great improvement as a result of using Scrum; they may deem it appropriate to continue using indefinitely. In talking to some of my colleagues, however, it seems that for some teams or organizations, Scrum is a transient problem solver. For those teams and organizations, gaining benefit from Scrum and eventually outgrowing it seems valuable to me. To what should they migrate next? I think that depends on the team and their goals.