Keeping Scrum Pure or Adapting Scrum to Your Culture?

  1. Posted on May 21, 2010 8:44:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, practices, Process

One question that I often hear is, “Do we have to implement Scrum by the book, or should we adapt it to our environment?”

The answer is, “Yes!” You should do both. And, they are not mutually exclusive.

To me, 'keeping Scrum pure' means adopting the three roles, four meetings, four artifacts, and two levels of commitment, and adhering to the principles behind Scrum, e.g., self-directed teams that commit, timeboxing, etc. This aligns with the Construx toolbox metaphor for software engineering best practices; Scrum is the tool rather than specific Scrum practices or processes.

'Adapting Scrum to your culture' means making the necessary practice accommodations to your reality. One example might be that, instead of foregoing daily standups for distributed teams, have the remote team members phone or video-conference in to daily standups. Yes, this is not optimal. But the reality is that many companies do not have working environments that facilitate team productivity, and we can't ignore that or maybe even change it... initially.

In my classes, I have borrowed a phrase/mindset from David Anderson: instead of saying "No," say "Yes, with consequences." For instance, when attendees ask if they can have people work on work outside their sprint backlog, I reply, "Yes, with consequences... you will have to adjust your expected team velocity to reflect the reduced bandwidth and increased context switching."

So, if you're going to adopt Scrum, adopt it in its entirety, adhere to the principles, and adapt the practices to accommodate your environment. This is the least-disturbing way to start. And then, utilize inspect and adapt and be willing to try to change environmental factors that interfere with increasing velocity... one factor at a time so you can 'boil the frog' without him realizing it.

3 Scrum Types - Yusuf Arslan-Web Development Blog said:

February 2, 2011 9:37:AM

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John Clifford

John Clifford is a Senior Fellow and Agile Practices Lead at Construx Software. John got his first software development job at a startup, while still in college, in the early 1980s. He started and ran a successful software company when he was 23. His career includes almost six years at Microsoft, where he was one of the original developers on the Microsoft Project for Windows and Mac team.

With more than three decades of IT experience, John has developed software across the spectrum of computing environments, ranging from desktop and mobile device applications to low-level frameworks, device drivers, and asynchronous communications protocols. Prior to joining Construx, John’s career included stints as a software development engineer, product feature team manager, group QA manager, group project manager, and development director.

At Construx, John focuses on software development, project management, product management, and team and organizational management practices, with an emphasis on Lean and Agile methodologies. As a manager, and as an external consultant, John has led numerous successful organizational transformations to Scrum and Lean/Kanban. He holds Certified Scrum Master, Certified Scrum Product Owner, and Certified Scrum Practitioner certifications from the Scrum Alliance. John was invited to become one of the charter Kanban Coaching Professionals from the Lean Kanban University, the professional association and standards group for Kanban Method training and coaching. As an adjunct instructor, John also teaches a course on applying Lean and Agile principles and practices for the University of Washington’s Professional and Continuing Education program.

Contact John