Scrum not equal to Agile | Scrum is not Agile

I have seen many a people say that Scrum is not Agile in strictest sense. Why? Because it forces down processes on people rather than have people fix the process. In fact in much of the CSM classes, you are told this is something you can tweak and this is something you can not. For instance, you do need a Sprint Planning, you need to do a Sprint Review and Retrospective and a Daily Scrum, have a Product Owner, Scrum Master and a Team. I guess you can omit the last part because you will need it anyways. You can not choose not to have a Scrum Master or a Product Owner or worse not do Daily Scrum. What if a team does not want to? Well the simple answer seems to be, you don’t have to do Scrum by the book. It pays to do it by the book till you get used to it and once you get used to it you can start questioning the wisdom of the roles and practices. There is nothing, that says you can not question the wisdom at the start itself – however, if you question after trying something out a hundred percent, you might be able to question better [or at least that’s what I think and I can be wrong on this].

My take on this and something I tell the teams I deliver sessions to is : Agile is like a religion. You can be religious without following “a” religion [like Hinduism or Christianity]. But following Hinduism or Christianity can be a good starting point to be religious for some [but not all]. Further, you can be Hindu and Christian at the same time [many Hindus study in Convent Schools and celebrate Christmas]. In addition, you can never be more Hindu or Christian than another Hindu or Christian. Both of you are at your own levels. Similarly, Scrum can be a very good starting point and you can mix it with some of XP or less of XP. Also, unlike rabid Scrummists, I also suggest that you can never be doing more Scrum or less Scrum than others. Tests like the Nokia Test for Scrum are a good reference and starting point but the team should be able to come up with their own tests and revise it often.

Just like having fanatics in a religion does not make a religion bad, having a group of aggressive consultants market Agile, does not mean Agile in itself is bad. Similarly, you often hear : “Religion is always private and something that you share with God, you don’t want others to preach it down.” The problem with this viewpoint is that it is your viewpoint. You might not want priests to help you connect with the God, but others might. Similarly, much of Agile might be common sense but getting this common sense across might need an external consultant. This is what blog posts like The Agile Disease, Scrum fails to come to grips with Human Psycology and Technology is already Extreme get wrong.

I always tell whom ever I talk to Agile about, Agile is not a destination, its a journey. Take Scrum, XP, and everything else as milestones that help you savor and experience different aspects of Agile. Eventually your own journey could help you define and discover, what you think they [Agile, Scrum, XP or <insert your framework name here>] should contain.

One Response to “Scrum not equal to Agile | Scrum is not Agile”

  1. Very well written. I believe that there is not too much point in trying to define too tightly any of the things you mention.
    We should ask the people in the anti-Scrum camp, what they have understodd about Scrum, and say what are the two or three main principles of Scrum, one or two main points Scrum makes about s/w development and it’s management.

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