Agile Organization

It’s Okay Not to Use Scrum

People say all the time that “agile” does not have to mean “scrum,” but not everybody really means it. For some, scrum (or kanban) is all they can imagine. HubSpot’s VP of Product Christopher O’Donnell however reveals that their business stopped using scrum six years ago. In an article for, he explains the processes they have adopted instead.

Nimble New Shapes

At HubSpot, O’Donnell says they reached a point where sprints began to feel more like “transactions” than “conversations” between the business and the people building products. Additionally, they found it impractical to try to apply scrum development to every type of development across the organization, since different aspects of the business have different needs. They thus switched to an ad hoc development process.

HubSpot did keep the live demos though, understanding the excitement and the value of communication they bring. They reintroduced demos in the form of “Science Fair”:

Science Fair is a monthly, company-wide demo showcase from product teams to share what they’ve been building over the past month. We only present real working software and product managers have to identify whether it’s in beta, alpha, gated-to-X, or live to the public. They can present a new product or feature, improvements in UX, reliability, or stability…

… we’re moving from team-based demos to theme-based demos. So instead of having every product manager demo their part of the app, this last Science Fair was focused solely on reporting. That way, we can all rally behind one big mission and really dig into how it influences other parts of the app.

The one overarching rule of Science Fair is that the products displayed must provide tangible customer value of some kind.

O’Donnell believes this model of development maximizes autonomy for product teams in a way that still ensures they are creating business value. Even as VP of Product, O’Donnell says there is a “good percentage” of work displayed at Science Fair that he has never seen before, which shows how much trust is placed in teams. Of course, what has worked for HubSpot may not be the evolution of agile that naturally works for your business. But it goes to show that there are options available to you beyond scrum–if you need them.

You can view the original article here:

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