What You Must Know About Scrum

Scrum is a problem finding framework. By itself, it solves only a small subset of the problems you will encounter as you develop a complex product.

When doing complex work, there is much that is unknown, many things will change and there is often no single and simple right answer about what to do and how to do it.

Scrum sets you up with a way of finding and dealing with the issues you will encounter along the way. Scrum helps shine a spotlight on your biggest challenges, issues and risks that will prevent you from delivering a valuable product.

Scrum is designed to help you discover and deal with these issues early and often. This in turn helps you to lower risk and start eliminating issues early and often, rather than later when time is more limited and pressure is higher.

The rules of Scrum act like a safety bumper protecting you from the big risks as you do complex work.

Scrum requires us to work in short cycles (Sprints) and reevaluate and replan each Sprint in order to take advantage of new insights and learnings.

Scrum is simple to learn but difficult to master. The analogy of Chess can be used to better explain this concept. The rules of chess are simple to learn. Playing Chess to a high level is incredibly difficult and it takes a lifetime to master. Scrum is the same.

Scrum is a different way of working and requires people to let go of some of the established “best practices” and ways of working from the past. This can be very difficult. The challenge of changing peoples beliefs and long-established habits should not be underestimated.

Scrum requires a Done & usable Increment by the end of each Sprint. This may be difficult to achieve for new Scrum Teams. That is natural and normal and the whole point! By discovering the difficulties early we can work to remove them.

It is better to discover issues early in the Development effort so there is time and options available to deal with them. Persevere, keep going and keep improving. This is the whole point of Scrum! Scrum is about learning how to get Done earlier and exposing the issues that prevent so we can collaborate to overcome them. It is not intended to be easy or to not require any changes other than the introduction of Scrum to resolve long-lived issues.

Producing Done Increments each Sprint enables agility, maximises options, limits waste, lowers risk and allows a Scrum Team to deliver value early and often. All of this is critical to success when doing complex work.

Scrum is deliberately lightweight and incomplete. It will not be enough on its own to enable you to build complex products. You will need to add appropriate practices and tools to help you succeed. Scrum is a starting point and not the end result. Use Scrum to create, adapt and improve your own process and ways of working.