Overview

Scrum Has to Die, Rugby Is the King

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To clarify all doubts at the beginning: I loved Scrum and I still like it. However the trigger for this post was not the Scrum framework itself. It was a session titled “Advanced Scrum, beyond Scrum” I have joined at the beginning of May in Frankfurt. This talk was really bad, bad prepared and bad executed. However, it gave me a kick thinking about scrum as it is, about this big balloon around it, with all these organizations, gurus and trainers. In this post I’d like to focus on two topics the members of this scrum balloon try to sell to the customers: “advanced Scrum” and “beyond Scrum”.

Let’s discuss both topics in detail. To make this blog readily understood I will use some comparisons of the Scrum with… the scrum. Pardon? “Scrum with scrum”? Yes, the Scrum as a framework with the scrum as an element of the rugby game (to distinguish between them I will use special notation: Scrum for the framework and scrum for the rugby element). I’m a big fan of the rugby game, so please allow me that (and please just watch one of the AllBlacks games; you will understand my enthusiasm).

Advanced Scrum
The scrum is rugby’s signature element because it is unique in the world of sport. It’s an easily identifiable part of the game, involving more than half the players on the field, two packs of eight battling for possession of the ball. Because every game has numerous scrums to restart play after minor infringements, it’s considered absolutely vital that a team be able to consistently win its own scrums. Scrums are often described as the engine room of the rugby, delivering a team’s prime power source [Rugby for Dummies 2nd Ed., Wiley 2007].

However the scrum has its problems. Problems that cause the rugby game to be not as much attractive to the spectators as it should be. Problems that can be classified as failing to deliver customer value. These problems are called scrum collapsing, driving in/up and feeding. As a result the scrum has to be restarted (again and again) causing long breaks in the game, thus “forcing” spectators to switch the channel or even leave the stadium. No spectators, no business.

I think we can agree that the Scrum is also a unique element of a game, game named agile project management. Scrum is very simple, involving only of three roles, three artifacts and five events bound together with rules of play. And we can also classify Scrum as the engine of the agile project management, allowing teams to work effectively and efficiently.

However, similar to the scrum in rugby, the Scrum has also some problems that can cause a project to fail without delivering customer value. Let me just list some like curgo cult, double work, pushing instead of polling, lack of communication and so on. No deliverables, no business.

The reasons why (in both cases) the customer doesn’t get he has paid for are quite simple. We do it in the wrong way. We don’t know the elements, rules and laws. We are making mistakes. So please forget about “advanced Scrum” as “Scrum done right”. It is simply Scrum.

Beyond Scrum
As you have probably noticed I have stated above that scrum is an element of the rugby game and similar, that the Scrum is an element of the agile project management. So should you be confronted with the topic named “beyond Scrum”… it’s nothing mystical about it. It’s simply the rugby game (in case of scrum) or agile project management (in case of Scrum).

The rugby game consists of many elements, rules and laws. We can talk about binding, charge downs, conversions, tackling, mauls, rucks, drop kicks, feeding, lifting, passing, tries and so on (I would even say that the maul element of the rugby game would be a better eponym as scrum, because is much more dynamic. However I don’t give my idea any chance because of the German meaning of the word “Maul”). It is a quite complex game.

Similar situation we have if we talk about agile project management. Initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing are essential elements of every project. And if we go deeper we have to talk about aims, requirements, scope, quality, resources, dependencies, risks, schedules and so on. It is a quite complex topic. Scrum touches only a subset of these elements and cannot be used autonomous without thinking about them.

So, if someone tries to convince you he can deliver something “beyond Scrum”, don’t step in this trap. Just ask him if he can do agile project management.

Conclusion
With this short post I wanted to point out that there is nothing we can classify as “advanced Scrum”. We can do Scrum right or wrong. We can win scrum or lose it. And additionally there nothing mystical about “beyond Scrum” as well, it is the rugby game or agile project management. Such advanced or beyond Scrum has to die… rugby is the King… agile project management is the king.

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