13 ways to BREAK Scrum. (Easier than you think.)

Episode 158 - 27 Sep 2023

Check out the full Scrum Guide here:

Scrum, as I'm sure you know, is a framework. And because it's a framework we can adapt it to our needs. It's actually highly adaptable. As the Scrum guide says, it "functions well as a container for other techniques, methodologies and practices." We can add, but we can't take away. Welcome to Development That Pays, the number one agile channel on YouTube. My name is Gary Straughan and I have a question for you. Did you by any chance do French at school? I did, and I was particularly bad at it. And the thing I was most bad at was dictation. I found the marking process, you know that thing where you swap books and mark each other's work? Yeah, I found that rather humiliating. You know the way it works, 10 points to start with. Lose a mark for every big mistake, a half point knocked off for a misplaced accent or a mixed up gender. I can tell you that a mixed up accent was the least of my problems. By the end of the first sentence I was inevitably every time down to null points. But I'm sure you'll do much better as we play a similar game with Scrum. You're gonna start with 10 points and knock one off for every time your version of Scrum differs from the Scrum guide. And don't worry, there'll be no pickiness on my part. We're gonna keep things very high level and there'll be no judgment either. I can tell you that most of the Scrum teams I've been a part of would've struggled to hold on to all 10 points, but you just might. Let's take a look. Over to the Scrum guide and I think we're gonna find most of what we need right here in the table of contents, specifically these four sections. Scrum values, Scrum team, Scrum events, and Scrum artifacts. Let's get things off to a gentle start with a look at those values. Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living five values. Commitment, focus, openness, respect and courage. This section is a relatively recent addition to the Scrum guide. The authors must have thought long and hard before including it, and for that reason I think we need to take it seriously. These values are not to be considered optional. Having said that, it's a tricky one to score for the purposes of our game here today. So unless you know your team is entirely lacking in one or more of the above, then I'm not gonna dock any marks. I'm gonna move a swiftly on to talk about Scrum events. Yes, you're right. Scrum team is the next one on the list but I'm gonna save that one for later. Your points will thank me. The Scrum events formally known as ceremonies are, the sprint, sprint planning, daily Scrum, sprint review and sprint retrospective. The sprint for me, perhaps for everyone is the defining feature of Scrum. So if you're doing Scrum I'm pretty sure that you're working in sprints. The guide describes a sprint as a fixed length event of one month or less. So lose a point here only if your sprint is longer than one month. And lose a point also if you flex the duration. Onto sprint planning. And again, if you're working in sprints I'm sure that you plan each of those sprints. So whereas I could get a little bit picky here I'm gonna move right along to the event that shares its name with the framework. I'm talking of course about the daily Scrum, also known as the daily standup. The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the developers of the Scrum team. Drop a point if you don't do daily Scrum. Also drop a point if you don't do it every day. Now don't give me a hard time about this. After all, it's right there in the name. How are your points doing? I thought I'd just ask before we get to the next two events. No reason. The purpose of the sprint review is to inspect the outcome of the sprint and determine future adaptations. Drop the point here if you don't do sprint reviews and yeah, drop a point here if you don't do a sprint review every sprint. The purpose of the sprint retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness. Drop a point if you don't do them. Also drop a point if you don't do them every single sprint. Did you just drop a point? Nevermind, I'm sure things will improve as we move on to the next section, Scrum artifacts of which there are three. The product backlog, the sprint backlog, and the increment. Even if your version of Scrum is rubbish and you've already dropped a bunch of points, I'd be really surprised if you didn't have a product backlog. I'd be very surprised if you didn't arrange it into sprint backlogs. And I'd be amazed if you didn't come up with an increment from time to time. Yeah, so I'm pretty sure you have all three, but what about their associated commitments? Drop a point for each of the following that you're missing. Product goal, sprint goal, definition of done. Three sections down, one to go. How are you getting on? Are all 10 points still intact? Hmm. I wonder. We'll talk more about the score after we talk about the Scrum team. In a way, this section is something of an odd one out. Everything we've talked about so far boils down to ways of working, maybe ways of acting, perhaps even ways of thinking. And what all of those things have in common is that they are, forgive me for saying it, cheap. What's not cheap is paying people's wages. Scrum teams have to be paid for, and it's been my experience that there isn't always the budget, isn't always the financial capacity to pay for a fully formed Scrum team. What's a fully formed Scrum team, I hear you ask? The Scrum team consists of one Scrum master, one product owner and developers. That's three distinct roles, and to my reading, that's at least four distinct people. One Scrum master, one product owner, two or more developers. If your organization is big enough to have more than one Scrum team, then economies are possible. The Scrum guide is open to the idea of sharing people between teams. For example, if Scrum teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum teams each focused on the same product. Therefore, they should share the same product goal, product backlog, and product owner. So that's a product owner serving more than one team. And as you probably know, it's not uncommon for a Scrum master to serve more than one team. That's all fine. But what about within the Scrum team? Is it okay for one person to take on multiple roles? While there is mention in the guide of product owners and Scrum masters becoming developers, the Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the developers of the Scrum team. To reduce complexity it is held at the same time and place every working day of the sprint. If the product owner or Scrum master are actively working on items in the sprint backlog, they participate as developers. So a very specific context, a very limited period of time, hardly permission for a free for all. So although some commentators argue quite strenuously that it's okay for example, for a developer also to be the Scrum master for the team, for the purposes of our game here today, I'm gonna be a little bit strict. Drop a point if your team is lacking a full-time Scrum master. Also drop a point if it's lacking a full-time product owner. They don't have to be full-time on your team but they do have to be, you know, doing that job full-time. We've made it to the end. Time to take a look at your score. If you have all 10 points intact, congratulations, that's a fantastic score. The chances are very good that you are doing Scrum. However, I would suggest taking a scan through the entire guide, I'll put a link to it below, just to make sure you haven't dropped some half points along the way. What if you scored nine points? Well, although I'm impressed, I think we both know that the sad truth is that you're not doing Scrum. And whereas I'm quite pragmatic about Scrum and I'm aware of many of the real world limitations the Scrum teams, or perhaps I should go Scrum teams have to deal with, our source of truth today is a Scrum guide and the Scrum guide ain't messing around. Scrum is free and offered in this guide. The Scrum framework, as outlined herein, is immutable. While implementing only parts of Scrum is possible the result is not Scrum. Ouch. Thank you very much for playing along. If you'd like to increase your Scrum score then this would be a great place to start.