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What makes Scrum to be Scrum?

11.4.2011 | 2 minutes of reading time

From time to time project teams ask themselves the question: “Is it Scrum what we do?” These teams usually use terms from Scrum (and other agile methods). There is a “Daily Standup Meeting” and the project uses four-week periods (“Sprint”). At the beginning of a period is a meeting for “Sprint Planning” and requirements are placed in a “Product Backlog”. A person from the department is called “Product Owner” and the project lead is called “Scrum Master”. Still the question remains: Is it Scrum?

Definitely the answer is no. Just because the Scrum jargon is used, it doesn’t need to be Scrum. The participants should live the Scrum process! Compliance with the Scrum rules helps tremendously, but this does not go far enough and it is not even a prerequisite for Scrum, see “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” and “Responding to change over following a plan” from the Agile Manifesto.

It’s just more than obeying the process with its rules. The point is that the team reaches the state of “flow”, forms its emergent properties and uses them to increase its efficiency to a level that no one has expected before. At first, it sounded a little bit “spiritually” to me, but then I changed my attitude when experienced it in a project. “Management 3.0 ” by Jurgen Appelo, which I can strongly recommend, gives an explanation of what happened and why.

Naturally these facts have impact on the way to implement Scrum in an organization. It is not enough to introduce artifacts, roles and meetings. The appropriate conditions are also required, both in the future Scrum team and in the close project environment.

It is important for a successful launch that all inexperienced members feel Scrum as soon as possible. Therefore ideal conditions are more important when Scrum is introduced. You should wisely select the project, the team and the management environment you want to start with. And if you decide to introduce Scrum, you should do it completely for the project.

For me the process with its rules is only a (admittedly important and useful) tool to apply Scrum. However, in my opinion the essence of Scrum is the interaction of the participants in the sense of the values and ideas of Scrum. It is important to keep this in mind during the daily work, especially as a scrum coach during the implementation.

What do you think? How would you fix whether or not a project does Scrum? I’m looking forward to your comments.


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