Scrum is a framework, not a directive

By | February 20, 2013

I seem to be encountering more and more people who say stuff like “We were using Scrum but X didn’t work for us, so we stopped using it”. Let’s be clear about this: there is no single implementation of Scrum. Or Kanban. Or any other agile/lean framework.

Antony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles"
We’re all different people doing different things; so why would there be one solution to fit all?

As Dan Brown recently asked at the London Agile Discussion Group, “Is there a prescribed Scrum board?” The answer is “no” because Scrum is a framework: it is meant to be built according to your needs. It’s meant to work around you, not the other way round. So if your team works best using 7 columns on your Scrum board (which you’ve found out by measuring and trying other options), then that is what you should have. Just because Mike Cohn refers to a 3-column board doesn’t mean that is the board you have to have. Even within the same company, you’ll likely find that each team works best using different implementations of Scrum. It’s very likely that one or more teams would work better applying Kanban.

More than a few attendees at recent Discussion Group sessions have told me that this lack of consistency scares their companies. “They say we have to do [insert meeting/artefact here], otherwise we’re not doing Scrum”. Or “By having one standardised implementation of Scrum, it’s easier to move people from team to team”.

Trust me, if your teams have grasped the core principles of agile or lean, they will adapt quickly enough. One of the core principles of agile is to inspect and adapt: how can you have a standardised approach if each team is adapting how they work to maximise output and learning? You can’t.

Try … measure … inspect … change … try … measure … then inspect if your change made a positive difference … change … (Repeat) Scrum is a framework, not a directive. No single approach will work for everyone.

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