Blame the workman, not the tool

We’re doing scrum but we don’t do retrospective’.. or We’re doing scrum but we don’t worry about ‘done’ at the end of a sprint because we’re still adding value…

These are actual statements from both a working Scrum Master and a non related Scrum Team.

So what? what’s wrong with that? we’re still agile right? Scrum is too prescriptive, it all about rules and not value..

Oh dear.

I hear comments like this more and more from teams and ‘Certified ScrumMasters’. Most of the time the people involved in these implementations of Scrum are finding the going hard and experiencing difficulties. It seems to me that many teams are so keen to ‘do agile’ that they’re taking perceived short cuts to get there. At the first sign of anything difficult being exposed by the framework, the exposing aspect is abandoned under the guise of ‘being more agile’. It’s just disonest.

I’m not precious about doing Scrum by the book, but I do think it gets blamed often for the very things it was designed to expose. There is very little prescription in the Scrum guide, whether you’re looking at the (Ken’s) version or the Scrum Alliance (Ken’s old one) version.

I can’t think of an example of anything in life that you can become expert in immediately. Many Scrum Trainers use the Shu Ha Ri metaphor for a model of learning in agile environments, and I personally agree. Whenever you learn something you start out doing the basics, often in rote. Learning to play an instrument, martial arts, engineering, writing, mathematics all start out with some basic levels of learning before you move on to a state where your techniques are natural and trancendant.

My feeling is that much of the blame occurs because people miss one of the most valuable aspects of Scrum, that it is simply a reflection of your working practices. The idea is to fix the practices that are causing the pain, not blame and abandon the aspects of the framework that expose your problems.

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