Scrum for everyone, except it’s not.

I recently took the 2 day Scrum Alliance ScrumMaster course and I am openly more confused today than I was before I took the course.

ScrumDev PDF

My position is simple, if we don’t have these discussions and this dialogue Agile will be akin to SOA.  What happened to SOA?  Ask Ann Thomas Manes SOA is dead long live….   Of course SOA is not dead, but I sure don’t hear much about it anymore like I used to.

Back to my class.  I liked the trainer, he was cool.  I think he was close to my age or somewhere near there (let us say born in 1970 something).   He had cool hair, it was like this.

He had some cool skinny jeans on that my 16 year old son would wear if he was a sk@t0r or something.   He had mad cool tat’s that if he waved his arms fast enough around while raving would spell out some far out words with meaning or produce a crazy angel.  (If you don’t get what I am saying think of this)

He had years of experience as being a regular project manager, developer and all around IT guy.   He went from the boardroom to the playroom, where the dumbassery of waterfall is stabbed in the heart by the agile sword of success.   You may wonder why I am going through this whole description and so I will tell you.  I liked the guy, he was smart but he presented a culture aligned with this practice known as Scrum.    I wrote down a lot of what he said (this was training) and he did tell us to “empty your cup”  Here is the story you can click past this if you are not interested.

Empty Your Cup

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

People’s reactions to this story:

“You cannot learn anything if you already feel that you know.”

“Preconceived ideas and prejudices always prevent us from seeing the truth.”

“You should open your mind before you open your mouth.”

“The master is trying to tell him to ease back and relax. The professor is too anxious about the whole thing.”

“Some people want to be taught everything in one sitting. It’s not possible.”

“This story proves to me that you have to unlearn before you can learn.”

“We shouldn’t get too wrapped up in one aspect of life. If we do, we close ourselves off to new experiences.”

“Even though you may be full of knowledge, you should always be open to the fact that there is still more to learn.”

“I bet the master did that just to shut the professor up!”

“If you want to learn, you have to shut up and LISTEN for a change.”

“We should be open to the views of others, and accept them as their own. Treat each opinion individually, and don’t just add it to your own.”

“Sometimes another person has to catch you with your guard down in order to teach you something.”

“The professor’s understanding of Zen is too intellectualized. The master is trying to point him towards a more intuitive understanding . If you’re too intellectualized about ANY subject, often you miss the boat.”

“I would tell this story to anyone who believed something about me that was untrue.”

“I think the master was trying to show him that when you can no longer take it is time to give – and you must sometimes give in order to receive.”

“This professor probably doesn’t really believe in Zen. His prejudices are preventing him from seeing clearly. This is what the master is trying to show him.”

“Too much of anything is just too much!”

“I don’t think the professor’s reaction indicated that he had a closed mind. It was perfectly normal. Wouldn’t you do the same if someone was spilling tea all over the place?”

SO.. I did (if my friend Wednesday tells you otherwise she is mistaking me for someone else).   I then held out my empty cup for some knowledge and here is what I heard.

  1. Scrum is cool – if you practice scrum you are a cool rugby like player, you will be revered for being a hottie and all those around you will say things like “Oh ScrumMaster you are so awesome, I want to be like you.” In other words  (there is a culture involved)
  2. Scrum is only (REALLY) effective if people are in the same room . “If you can’t hear someone grunting when you are talking to them, you probably aren’t practicing scrum right.”
  3. Some stats as  I wrote them down and recorded them 1 in 10 agile teams are successful. About 40 percent of teams practicing scrum are effective or are doing it right. (
  4. If scrum isn’t working for you it is because you aren’t doing it right.  You need to hire an Agile Coach to come in and get your organization right.
  5. Waterfall is good for people that never want to make changes ever. Agile is good for people that always want to make changes always,  except when you are in the middle of doing something and you can’t change.
  6. The ScrumMaster has a lot of work to do but they really shouldn’t be involved in the work itself.
  7. “As a ScrumMaster if people are talking to me and I want them to talk to each other I turn my back on them.”
  8. Once you get certified as a CSM (Certified Scrum Master) you can go for a CSP (Professional) and then on to take a bunch of other scrum tests from other organizations and you can be a Scrum trainer which is equivalent to a Phd.
I have written enough for this entry but there is more to come.  If you disagree with what I wrote it is only because you are reading my words and which according to ( is only 7 percent of communication.
More to come.. but for now take a look at this link on Agile software development methodologies. 

3 thoughts on “Scrum for everyone, except it’s not.

  1. There is quite a bit of truth to your cynicism. 🙂

    It may help to participate in a scrum project–a good or bad one–to get a better feel for where it might work and where it might not.


  2. Also, I disagree that there is one way to do scrum and that’s the only way that’s right. While there may be a recommend “official” way, and that may work best as a whole, you can also adjust the methodology to fit your team and project. I don’t see anything wrong with that as long as you don’t abuse the team in the process.


Comments are closed.