Why is Scrum revolutionary and large-scale process?

Published on 13th August 2019

A little chit-chat about Scrum…


The Scrum framework is a revolutionary framework. It’s a solid and successful Agile framework that’s been applied to a variety of projects and teams. Petri Heiramo, our dear friend, experienced Agile trainer and coach with more than 15 years of experience in process improvement had a little chit-chat about this important topic. We warmly suggest you – enjoy this Scrum talk.


📣 As a certified by Scrum Alliance as a CST since 2008, Petri has held over 300 certified courses and has trained thousands of people, in organizations ranging from small companies and startups up to multinational giants worldwide. He thinks that Scrum is fundamentally very simple. It’s as simple as it can be, and still work. And all of that is very intentional, by design. Unfortunately, that simplicity is also part of the problem. Many people do not realize how deep it goes and only repeats the basic routines. Scrum is silent about, for example, technical practices, so many people do not pay enough attention to them. There are more than 20 years of experience on how to create really excellent code very fast, but very few companies realize that or pay enough attention to it. Thus, their use of Scrum is only a shadow of what it could be.


,,Part of the reason is there are companies that have made the necessary changes and have become very successful with Scrum (or Agile in general). Other companies see that success and want to benefit from the same. This has created a lot of general interest in Agile, also in the press. So far, Agile has been a competitive advantage, but we are moving to a time where Agile is the standard and non-Agile companies simply struggle to survive.”


Petri has been involved in a wide variety of projects and, as a result, he has seen the positive effects of Scrum on the human side of software development. That why he focuses on people, as a great listener and motivator, with interactive style in coaching. He thinks that part of the success of Scrum is probably the certification programs around it. There are many good trainings, and now also more advanced options. These programs have created awareness in the industry and CSM & CSPO are considered minimum criteria for many positions. There is an increased demand for experienced Agilists and Agile coaches. Many of the people I worked with 10 years ago are now driving Agile change in their current organizations and positions.



People must feel that their work is a necessary and valuable part of the outcome


,,I believe that people work together when they see value in doing so. Forcing them to do so, when they don’t see any value in doing it, will only create opposition. Thus, if we want people to collaborate, we need to create an environment where they need to – and want to – collaborate. Thus, the Scrum team must have a shared goal that inspires the members. They must understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, whose lives are made better, and what constraints exist for the solution. This goal must touch the hearts of the people; making money for the owners of the company is rarely sufficient.”


But still…


Petri said that once the above is in place, the people need to self-organize and get the freedom to do that. The management must not micromanage the team, but trust and expect that they figure out how to solve the problem. This is very scary, both for many managers and most teams. Too many business cultures are very manager-centric and taking responsibility at the team level is challenging and often not rewarded.

Finally, it is a fact that very few people know how to effectively self-organize as a group in a business setting. Having a good Scrum Master or Agile coach can help massively. They can observe how things are going, facilitate group workshops and meetings, and help teams reflect how they are collaborating. Without such support, teams often “self-organize” into a very traditional setup (i.e. someone becomes the de-facto leader/manager and tells others what to do).


Funny and meaningful daily Scrum – is it possible?


Petri claimed: ”Absolutely yes!” Daily Scrums are obviously important to maintain the coordination and collaboration within the team at the daily level, but more than that, they are actually one of the more reliable “thermometers” of team health. When the team is not working well, the dailies don’t work well either. But the dailies don’t directly tell what is wrong; only that something is. In our human bodies, fever is a similar indicator.


,,So, when people don’t see value in a daily Scrum, the most likely reason is that there is no value. Or at least not enough to justify spending the time in it. The two typical responses – quitting dailies and forcing people to participate – are the wrong responses. Instead, it would be important to figure out why there is no value in the daily.”


Usually, the people in the team simply don’t care enough about what others are doing. They have their own tasks to worry about. This directly implies that there is no shared goal that would bind the team together. As I said above, people work together when they see value in it, and they work solo when they think that is more effective.


What are the most common challenges and how to overcome them by using Scrum?


Due to his experience, Scrum doesn’t actually promise to solve any problems. Instead, should show your problems and then it’s up to you to solve them. That’s why using Scrum is often so difficult. We often discover so many problems that we don’t know how to deal with them. But it’s not Scrum that is not working.

  1. The most common problem that I see is the lack of actual teamwork. There’s a lot of people working together, but it’s really everyone working on their own and then connecting the results with others. While this is ok with some types of work where we know what we need to do, it is not effective when we have to solve tough problems together.
  2. Then organizational problem – the structures in our typical organizations are designed towards the individual effort. Managers measure people through personal metrics, and reward heroes. We hire people for specific jobs, and then those jobs become small silos in themselves.


Scrum: The Art of doing twice the work in half of the time


,,The world is changing. Scrum and Agile are so much more well-known and spread out. Even if there are lots of organizations struggling, there are also more and more of those organizations that are doing it well and benefiting from it. There has been a huge change in the industry during the 12+ years I’ve been trying to make Agile work. Back then, there were only a handful of people, and the Agile books were few. It was possible to own and read them all. Now, it’s thousands upon thousands of people and the books are too many to mention.”


There are still very few really good Scrum Masters. Even if an organization has them, they rarely know how to utilize them effectively. None of these are “Scrum problems”, either, but all make the use of Scrum and Agile successfully difficult.

📣 Let’s hear you – what’s your experience?  😊