The upstream adoption of Scrum
Since 2003 I have successfully applied Scrum in various projects and introduced it in organizations. All on my local market, Belgium. Since 2010 I also promote adoption beyond my professional consulting activities, as board member of the Agile Consortium Belgium.
While worldwide the Agile portfolio is going through the Bowling Alley and Scrum is emerging as the Gorilla, my local market seems to struggle to even cross the chasm. One of my re-occurring findings is the lack of upstream adoption of Scrum. I consider it a major impediment.
Retrospective of a Belgian ScrumMaster
In my position as consultant I don’t always have complete control over the delivery process. But the least I always do is master a project instead of manage it as a traditional command & control-like dictator. I refer to it as my Scrumitude: iterative phasing with end-of-iteration demo’s, mastering a Team into Sprint Planning and self-organizing, being a facilitator, removing impediments over being prescriptive, establishing a close relationship with Business, promoting on-site cross-functionality, using visible information radiators and high transparency. All consolidated in my Product Backlog Tracking model upon Sprints and Burndowns.
In the absence of outspoken Scrum, even such stealth application of it results in on-time and on-budget delivery and higher satisfaction. And it makes projects fun again. No surprise that the downstream adoption, i.e. by Teams, end-users and business representatives, is generally huge.
Although good figures are generally synonymous for upstream ‘success’, the Scrum process and its essential part in this success seem hard to capture and to accept for many old-skool commandistos.
- The first upstream obstacles are lower level management that likes to operate below corporate radars. They object the transparency and visibility as they are less beneficial on the ‘success’.
- The more upstream levels don’t care about the process, just about the figures. In the best case they tolerate a deviant process. An unpredictable and unreliable base for deeper transition.
What we need is active and explicit upstream support and promotion. Think about operational management (‘pure’ IT), sales divisions, delivery managers and hierarchical management.
Confessions of a Belgian ScrumMaster
The success of stealth Scrum is limited because it disguises the essential change. It’s less intrusive, but the leverage of lasting advantages, hyperproductivity, is underused. But I still wonder how to articulate about Scrum more clearly without losing commercial opportunities.
And a tedious effect is that people start instructing me with their fantasies on Agile/Scrum. Which is not why I re-entered the world of Scrum and greatly engage in Ken Schwaber’s Scrum.org. And decided not to let the momentum pass this time. And became Belgium’s first PSM II.