Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ken Schwaber on Scrum

agilecollab: Are you pleased at rapid spread of Scrum?

Ken Schwaber: Yes, in that the spread means that people are desperate for a new approach. No, in that they may think of Scrum as simply an iterative version of waterfall. Many CIO’s still think of Agile as more, faster. However, as organizations and projects flee the existing controls and safeguards of waterfall and predictive processes, they need to recognize the even higher degree of control, risk management, and transparency required to use Scrum successfully. I estimate that 75% of those organizations using Scrum will not succeed in getting the benefits that they hope for from it.

agilecollab: Do you agree with 50% Scrum approaches? Are there any dangers in this approach?

Ken Schwaber: Scrum is a very simple framework within which the “game” of complex product development is played. Scrum exposes every inadequacy or dysfunction within an organization’s product and system development practices. The intention of Scrum is to make them transparent so the organization can fix them. Unfortunately, many organizations change Scrum to accommodate the inadequacies or dysfunctions instead of solving them.

agilecollab: What makes Scrum a good fit for using it with any engineering approaches like XP or even system approaches like Lean?

Ken Schwaber: Scrum is a framework. XP engineering practices can be used within a Scrum Sprint to improve quality and productivity. Lean is a way of thinking that optimized complex, repetitive processes. Product development is more of a one-off thing, where every release and project is more unique than similar. However, much of the thinking that Lean uses is also used by Scrum, so studying lean helps you understand Scrum. For instance, value stream mapping helps optimize some of the processes – such as change control – that aren’t addressed by Scrum. Scrum purposefully has many gaps, holes, and bare spots where you are required to use best practices – such as risk management. Scrum then shows you how well that approach works through transparency, so you can continually optimize the approach.