Apr 062009

Abby over at Haxr Chick cites Ken (Schwaber, co-inventor of Scrum) as comparing Scrum to a live-in mother-in-law who is constantly pointing out how you can improve.  Great post, and I like it.

But the discussion in the comments is just one variant of the many similar conversations I’ve heard about Scrum.  It goes something like this:

  • Neo: “Scrum is great, but we have to adapt it to fit our organization.”
  • Morpheus: “You must not adapt the Scrum framework.”
  • Neo: “Whoa.  Now you’re getting all religious on me.”

The whole point of “getting religious” about the Scrum framework is to detect when you are, ah, let me find the right extension to the metaphor here, drugging the mother-in-law rather than dealing with what she exposes.

If we can prematurely adapt Scrum to our situation, we have the freedom to adapt it such that we are comfortable within our dysfunction, rather than improving our dysfunction.*

Ken harps on 2 things to keep us from this pitfall:

  1. keep Scrum simple – 3 roles, 3 artifacts, 3 meetings, associated rules for each; and
  2. don’t adapt the Scrum framework (although adapting the process which you evolve around the framework is not only allowed, it is a must!)

By keeping Scrum simple, we reduce the temptation to tinker with it, and we reduce the amount we have to “interpret” it.  By keeping the framework constant, it gives us the same benefit as keeping rulers constant:  we get to adapt our behavior to improve rather than adapting the thing which exposes our behavior.  It would be some odd clothing made by a tailor who adjusted his measuring tape just to make me feel better about my 44″ waist.

But excuse me, I must be getting religious. :)

 Posted by at 1:29 pm

  3 Responses to “Drugging the Mother-in-Law”

  1. hey, I wanted to send you the link to that book we talked about, but your email account is bouncing. Is there another address I can contact you at?

  2. ….we reduce the amount we have to “interpret” ….
    I like the way you phrased that. It has seemed to be a game of focus and in the case of scrum a better focus than what we have had before.

  3. You are right, the key of success is to keep Scrum simple. If you try to modify it by -mainly- adding useless things just because it exist in your organisation, you will fail.

Your thoughts?