Agile Thinking

In Defense of ‘ScrumBut’

“ScrumBut” is a pejorative describing instances where a person says, “We do scrum, but…” In other words, ScrumBut summarizes all the ways and reasons that people do not have a true scrum implementation. But in a post at the Clever PM, Cliff Gilley takes umbrage with the idea that ScrumBut is always an awful, condemnable thing. In fact, to treat it that way is a betrayal of the tenants of agile, because when it comes to “individuals and interactions over processes and tools,” scrum itself is just a process.

The ScrumBut Rut

Scrum is supposed to adapt to supplement the sensibilities of the team and the business. If there is some function of scrum that is not being implemented for a really good team-centric reason, then why should it be vilified? Gilley provides the example that a highly collaborative team might choose to do stand-ups only two or three set days a week, because every day would be overkill.

Additionally, not every aspect of an organization gets agile right away. ScrumBut suggests scrum should appear in a big bang, which is not realistic. Granted, it makes sense to always be weary of ScrumBut, in that you want to make sure teams are not just following random processes without understanding why they are there. But the concept of ScrumBut can hurt more than it helps:

There’s a common belief in the software business that if you’re not doing Scrum, then you’re not Agile (or even “agile”).  To that, I say this: [expletive].  Scrum was the product of revolution, and like any group of revolutionaries who suddenly find themselves in a position of authority, the “powers that be” in the Scrum world don’t want to lose ground, or power…or dollars.  How much does each of the Scrum certifications cost — in time and money?  How much money is passed between companies and consultants, trainers, and “coaches” who simply deliver the Gospel Truth of Scrum, and then want to come back again and again in the name of fighting against that dreaded villain, “ScrumBut”?  This is not agility — this is a specific, defined, structured framework that tells you what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and who should be involved.

Things in business always boomerang back to being about money.

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