Go! Go! Go!

v01.00.15 - This is not official scrum guidance, it's all personal opinion drawn from my own experiences.

Wait! Wait! Wait! 

One issue I've face repeatedly in any organisation is an almost universal tendency to interpret the agile manifesto through a lens of optimistic expediency. The first casualties of this are typically process, documentation and planning.

The manifesto does not say we can't have, or shouldn't have processes, documentation or a plan...

It simply states a preference, a leaning, towards one over the other...
We have come to value
  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan
While there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
In my experience this is Scrum's single biggest challenge to teams during adoption. It's not a weakness or failing of scrum, it's more incongruous practices derived from an over-zealous application of the manifesto.

Scrum is a software development framework based upon the Agile manifesto. As such it provides software development teams with a recommended composition, structure, a set of tools to deliver software in an agile way.

Scrum comes with "Agile Built-in"

Whilst every team is encouraged to tailor their scrum practices to match their exact needs, the 12 principles themselves are there as a reference point. The more practices you have that don't align with these principles, the further you drift from the intent of the manifesto. There come's a point where you may compromise so often, you might as well stop calling what you're doing Scrum, but please don't call it a "hybrid".

We're agile, let's just do it!

And nowhere in the principles does it promote just diving into the codebase without a plan and hacking out features. Nor does it give license to product owners, business owners or managers to throw scant or vague requirements at a group of developers and expect magic to happen.

"Welcoming change, even late in development", is meant within the context of the other 11 principles, it is not a green-light to having no plan or vision for the outcome.  The "We're agile, let's just do it" is in itself a direct violation of principles 4,5,8 and 9.

Scrum is a team effort, business and technology working side-by-side to delight customers by serving their needs. This means everyone needs to understand what the problem is they're solving, what success will look like, and how will we validate that.
  • You should have conversations
  • You should have clarity of requirements 
  • You should have a plan everyone understands
  • You should establish clear goals
  • You should have all of this recorded so you can refer back to it, share it with others, and talk about it later
You delight customers by serving their needs.

Over time, as a team matures and collaboration becomes effortless, a team might chose to experiment with dialling back some of these interactions, measuring the impact, looking for continual improvement and productive gains. 

But, Scrum is not...

  • License to get cracking without a plan or a firm idea
  • An excuse to not consider a story's outcome before development
  • A convenient cover for making it up as you go along
  • An excuse for not having an understanding of the outcomes

But! But! But!

In the manifesto it clearly states...
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan
And in the manifesto, it says "Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage."

And those statements are absolutely correct, and scrum provides for this by...
  • Encouraging collaboration throughout the lifecycle 
  • Using short iterations to deliver small incremental drops of value
  • Sprint reviews are the opportunity to together and review our work, and then change our mind.

Scrum is not license to throw ideas around without due consideration.

Scrum is not license to fundamentally alter a requirement midway through a sprint.

Scrum is not an excuse for having no plan or defined outcomes.

Scrum is Agile, but there are still rules to follow.