Back to Basics

Blog post
By Pam Ashby | 19 September 2018

Jenny’s Bailey’s First Insights series of webinars has been fascinating. Across several half hour sessions, we’ve been able to ‘meet’ several of the speakers for the Agile Business Conference and begin to make our hitlist of which sessions to make a beeline for. It’s not going to be easy, with over 80 speakers and facilitors, and 3 tracks at any one time. If you’ve missed these preview webinars, be sure to catch them here

Scrum: the base for your Agile pizza

Simon Reindl, talking about his session Scrum: The base for your Agile pizza, made the point that many people using an Agile approach are saying they are doing Scrum. It has been around for 21 years and over that time many of the basic principles of Scrum have become distorted and misunderstood. He quotes a tweet from Kent Beck, one of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto, who wrote:

“If doing Scrum hurts, it might not be Scrum it might be your Scrum.”

For Simon, it’s time to remind ourselves about the basics of Scrum, how it was designed to work, rather than what we have allowed it to morph into as a result of the particular choices of pizza toppings we’ve loaded onto it. “When you’ve added so many different things to your pizza base,” Simon mulls, “At what point is it no longer a pizza?”

Sticking to basic principles

He explains that the real value of Scrum comes when you pull yourself back to sticking to the rules – the original principles that made it work. When you use the intended vocabulary, to ensure that everyone is communicating specifically, accurately, and in a consistent way. “The standard Scrum language allows precise discussion” he explains, “Let’s face it, if you have a complex problem, and you add a complex process, then that’s just going to make things harder.”

Scrum was initially intended as a tool for discovery based around feedback loops. As such it offers up insights throughout a development process. Simon reminds us of the five Scrum values:

  • Focus
  • Respect
  • Courage
  • Commitment
  • Openness

Putting these at the core of collaboration encourages the positive and constructive discussions that are needed to flush out fresh ideas and allow people to develop their full potential and capability.

Jenny asked Simon to identify some of the myths that have developed around Scrum. He suggests two:

Myth 1 – that you have to wait for the sprint review to release. Reality – Scrum allows you to release as frequently as you want. 

Myth 2 – that the Scrum Master rules. The word ‘master’ has dangerous connotations of command-and-control. Reality – the Scrum Master is a servant-leader whose role is to ensure Scrum is properly understood and applied, and to encourage and support the team.

Simon will reveal much more about his thinking on Scrum in his delivery track session, at 15:05 on Day Two of the Conference. He is full of the pragmatic good sense that sits at the heart of Agile thinking.

“Don’t do Scrum for the sake of doing Scrum” he advises. As with every corner of Agile, delivering value to the customer comes first.


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