A Scrum a day keeps the management away

A rugby scrum as opposed to how software engineers do it.
Scrum meeting snapshot.

I’m sure you know about apples and doctors and whatnot; I’ve also found that Scrums are just like that too.  It’s a foundational tool for any team that’s becoming “agile”, and a great starting point to work Scrum principles into an organization for a lot of reasons.

A Scrum is simple and wraps a lot of good ideas into itself.  The idea of a 15 minute meeting with a hyper-focused agenda with a few rules is something that can easily be applied in non-technology as well as technology groups.  To frame the benefits in a slightly different way:

  • You’ll just get things done.
  • Information is boiled down to the essentials.
  • You can improve morale by empowering team members; they are free to self-organize for the rest of the day with minimal regimentation.

Here are some tips for organizations who want to start introducing Scrum into non-software-engineering teams:

  • For project managers acting as Scrum Masters: Focus on impediment identification and resolution (action) as opposed to project plan maintenance (passive).
  • For business analysts (or other team members in general) acting as Product Owners: Focus on getting everyone on the same page regardless of role and break out of the siloed information mentality as opposed to creating and maintaining over-wrought documentation.
  • For the rest of the team members involved: Focus on progress, momentum, and constructive conflict as opposed to accounting for every minute of one’s time.

I realize that some people might argue:

  • What about emergencies?  I would say that Scrum Master judgment can intervene to call off the Scrum as needed.
  • What about getting to other topics?  That is not the point of the meeting!
  • How do we make sure everyone has their say?  Team members (emphasis on team) will, as long as it’s brief and to the point.  Non-team members wait until the “parking lot” time that’s determined by the Scrum Master.

These (and their variations) are all excuses for ScrumBut, a horrible mutation that’s justified with weak rationales and a disdain for other folks’ time.  Respect the people you work with, and just don’t do it.

PS. Credit for the photo of the Scrum meeting goes to Jason Yip and his article here.

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