Uses Of Scrum – Beyond Software

Scrum is designed to help people doing complex work. Its origins in the early 1990s were in software development where most work was complex by nature.

Over the last 10 years as its use has increased and expanded to be used in many other types of complex work.

Here are some examples from my own experience where Scrum is being used in interesting ways beyond the world of software.

Real Hospital Português – Recife, Brazil

In 2016, I travelled to the city of Recife in Brazil which was at the epicentre of the Zika virus outbreak. I had been invited by the COO of Real Hospital Português to train 60 of the staff at the hospital in Scrum.

The hospital was in crisis. Recife was at the centre of the Zika outbreak. The number of people visiting the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department had doubled in a short period of time and they were unable to cope with this rapidly increased demand.

Like many hospitals, there was a traditional and bureaucratic management structure that made decisions slowly. Even small low-risk changes would typically take over a year. This delay was no longer acceptable in the crisis situation they found themselves in due to the Zika virus.

The COO assembled a cross-functional team to attend the Scrum training. It included a diverse group including ranging from the Chief Surgeon, Cleaning Manager, the Finance Director and a Junior Nurse, as well as many others.

After the training, the COO assumed the Product Owner accountability and they assembled a Scrum Team including cross-functional people from across the hospital. The vision set by the Product Owner was to make changes 10x faster than normal to allow them to better cope with the Zika crisis.

In the first 2 week Sprint, they were able to increase the capacity of the A&E department by 50%. The changes made were simple in nature, but would have been impossible without an empirical approach, increased trust and a focus on the immediate delivery of value in the form of more patients treated successfully in less time.

Pharmaceuticals

A significant trend through 2020 in the UK and Europe was the desire of large Pharmaceutical companies to become more Agile, using Scrum. This included companies such as Roche, GSK and Novartis who invested heavily in training for their people to help them better manage the complex work they carried out.

I trained people from across these organisations with a wide range of skills and interests including executive leadership teams, HR, finance, sales, marketing, project management, logistics, facilities, drug development & testing.

The timing of this was fortuitous, with the arrival of Coronavirus/COVID-19 in 2020. I hope the greater agility these organisations have achieved so far will enable them to deliver vaccines and testing solutions faster than may otherwise have been possible.

Business Agility

The trend that the big Pharma companies were following is part of the global movement for organisations as a whole to seek greater agility or to become ‘Agile’.

The world is becoming an ever more complex place. Change is affecting industries that remained relatively static for much of their history. Technology is changing, customer demand is changing. Unexpected and volatile events are becoming the norm. The very nature of societies and economies are shifting before our eyes. The level of change and uncertainty around us at an unprecedented level. Predicting what will happen next is impossible.

Organisations have to adapt to this changing landscape in order to survive. As a result, they are recognising the need to work in a more agile way that allows them to keep maximum options open and adapt and change direction when needed with the lowest possible risk.

Agility used to be an I.T. and software thing. Now it is a business thing and only those organisations who achieve it will survive in the long term.

Scrum is the most popular approach to become more Agile. Scrum can help with all of this!

If you need help, then contact me at TheScrumMaster.co.uk to find out more.