Even if the Scrum framework is simple and easy to describe, there are still many cases were organizations fail in adopting Scrum. One of the main reasons is that many companies see the transformation towards Agile as a simple change in the process and not the adoption of new values. In this article, Zuzi Šochová explains that you cannot just do Scrum, you have to be Scrum.
Author: Zuzana “Zuzi” Šochová, http://sochova.cz/
As one of the Certified Scrum Trainers (CST), I had the unique opportunity to travel around the world during the last two years and teach Scrum at a variety of businesses, organizational environments, and very different cultures. I must admit that Scrum is awesome as it is universal. You can apply it to software, hardware, marketing, HR, executive teams and be rapidly successful, significantly better, change the way of work and become the best of the greatest. The flip side of the coin is, that despite the easy way how Scrum is defined, there are still companies, teams and individuals completely failing to understand what Scrum is and therefore failing to implement it.
I draw this picture to illustrate that becoming Scrum is a journey. You can’t just do Scrum, you have to embrace it. You have to become Scrum yourself first. It is often not that straightforward as we have been got used to the traditional processes throughout the history, but at the same time, this is the very best strength of Scrum. Once you master it, it becomes the part of your life. It is not just a process, it is a way of living.
First, let me say explicitly that “Technical Scrum” is not Scrum. It only pretends to be Scrum. It is a camouflage. However, it might be the necessary first step in certain organizations to move to the real Scrum. How do you recognize Technical Scrum? People “do” Scrum. They are looking for ways how to remain the same as they used to be. They are eager to get checklists of practices which need to be done, in order to do proper Scrum. Therefore Technical Scrum is all about estimations techniques, burndowns charts, measuring velocity. The very important metric would be individual utilization, so they usually insist on time task estimates, capacity calculations, and time-sheets to be filled. They have identified new roles, but in reality, they just renamed the traditional roles and didn’t change the behavior. Scrum meetings are usually long and felt redundant. Managers use Scrum to micromanage. The overall team focus is on “how”. The team is not any team but a group of individuals working on similar items. The individual accountability matters. They are looking how to split responsibilities instead of how to collaborate to achieve the goal. Product Backlog is usually a to-do list where most things have to be done.
In the real Scrum, your team understands the mindset and they are “living” Scrum. They take it as the way how to focus on customers, how to innovate, how to collaborate. The estimates, efficiency, and utilization become quite unimportant, as they focus on delivering value to the customer and overall long term results. The first step here is usually “Team Scrum” where the development team becomes a real self-organized and cross-functional team which works together. The team creation process produces a huge trust internally among the team members but also externally to the organization. It is the first tiny ‘snowball’ which afterward starts the whole transformation and creates forces to change how we run our business and how the organization itself is structured.
The “Organizational Scrum” builds on top of the values we experienced at team level – openness, transparency, and trust which leads the organization to be more business driven, flexible, and open to innovations. The business slowly starts to be picking up and the organization has to follow the rest. At this time, the snowball is big enough to attract the rest of the organization. At that time, you are truly Agile.
Such transformation can take years. It is not uncommon that companies are falling back and restarting the whole initiative again. It is hard. To succeed you need a good reason for change and courage. Eventually, every company has to change as the word is getting more complex and fast. The same way as industry revolution changed the way we were hundred years ago, the complexity of our current life is changing us now. To succeed in a long term, we have to be more flexible and dynamic – more Agile.
About the Author
Zuzana “Zuzi” Šochová is an independent Agile coach and trainer and a Certified Scrum Trainer with more than fifteen years of experience in the IT industry. She started with Agile and Scrum back in 2005, when she was implementing Agile methods in the USA. From that time, she has been credited with Agile transformation and implementation for many companies and teams around the world. By creating and sustaining Agile leadership, Zuzi believes the worlds of work and life can be made happier and more successful. She is the author of the book The Great Scrummaster. This article was originally published on http://agile-scrum.com/index.php/2017/02/23/scrum-transformation-journey/ and is reproduced with permission from Zuzana Šochová.