Today everyone wants to master Scrum but no one wants to understand what it exactly is and what its salient features are. The Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled Services (ITeS) sectors in India and elsewhere consider it to be the process that is going to take them to the stars. But, if Scrum would have been so easy to master and implement, everyone would be doing it and this article would not even be required.
Here’s a bird’s-eye view of what Scrum is in its most basic form and how it can help you change the way you work. The key is to not look at it like a process that you have to understand and then master. Instead, look at it as a way to find your own little, unique process.
What is the Goal of Scrum?
According to Scrum.org, Scrum is a simple framework that is used to create an effective team collaboration environment for complex products and their management. You don’t use it for a content marketing campaign for Nestle. You use Scrum for an AI-driven web browser that is made exclusively for SpaceX to help them focus only on space tech and weed out everything else.
As confusing as that may sound, it can be assured that this is the essence of Scrum. Now, let’s take a look at what Scrum can do for you as an individual and a member of, say, a software development team in an IT company.
Steve Spearman writing for Agile for All says that “the goal of Scrum is to be the lightest-possible framework to guide you in discovering and creating your own process.” This is absolutely true as he further explains it as a guide that can help individuals find the best way to get things done in the shortest span of time. However, it also stresses that Scrum does not take any shortcuts in the Agile environment because those often lead to “half-work”.
Instead, what Scrum focuses on is providing a developer with the approach that will get the job done in the simplest way possible. It achieves this by working on the feedback loops and routine Scrum meetings.
Scrum – a Meta process
Spearman further likens the concept of Scrum as a metaprocess where it helps an individual understand an approach that will make her learn more quickly and continuously question the status quo of that particular project. For example, a software developer working on Python needs to continuously assess her coding board with the desired final outcome to see if it involves what can later translate into the desired output. How does she do that?
By updating other stakeholders in the team about her process and progress. Naturally, as the project comes closer to the output, it becomes clearer, and this can be used to better her approach in coding. Constant feedback from team members plays a huge role in an Agile environment.
What Scrum is Not?
As inferred above, Scrum does not show how to do a certain task. It instead helps individuals create a process on their own which then can involve a change in the tools they use, processes they adopt, etc. In this vein, it is important to note that Scrum does not:
- Describe the process of a particular project or task. It only makes the individual assess that process
- Tell you which tools to use and if you should depend on any tools at all. It gives you the vantage point of the entire project and helps you make a sound decision based on the output, team strength, and period
- Tell you the best way possible for a project’s completion. It enables all the information that you will need to find the best way possible.
The biggest inference that you can derive from this “Scrum as a metaprocess” is that you cannot expect a system to give you ideas. You can depend on your Scrum master to show you the way and update you about the project requirements as and when they change. How you choose to complete it totally depends on you.
Therefore, the best way to view Scrum is not as a process but as a facilitator of critical information. It works on the idea that if a person has all the information she needs she will do the job in the shortest possible time. And a very good job at that.
How Scrum Changes the Work Environment
Implementing Scrum in a workplace requires it to have three major stakeholders: A Scrum master, a product owner, and a dev team. Together, these three roles or teams show the way forward for a project’s successful completion.
Although it may sound like Scrum does not do much at an operations level, it will be relieving to learn that it actually does. Usage of timeboxes, periodic meetings, and proposed value increments at every step are the key suggestions of a general Scrum environment.
Understanding where this comes in will require a deep dive into the concept and all its facets. Browsing through different use cases online (this one by the Scrum Institute is very comprehensive) will be extremely helpful. Joining a company that employs Scrum meetings on a daily basis as part of its product development workflow is perhaps the best way to learn the merits of Scrum.
For a layman, the concept of Scrum will bounce off the head. For someone in software development and who has worked in the IT sector, it will automatically make sense. Because Scrum is largely a technical concept, one that provides a framework to be followed for a productive work environment.
It is great to see that Scrum is now being adopted by other industries as well. It only corroborates its efficacy as the leading product management framework in the Agile environment – a leading project management system that is quickly taking over the world.