Why Use Scrum If Change Isn't Important?

  1. Posted on July 16, 2009 3:53:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, Management, Process

Is Scrum really only valuable to folks who care about agility (or Agility)?

Let's say I'm running a project with defined requirements, fixed scope, a fixed schedule (firm completion/release date), and fixed resources. What advantages does Scrum offer over other project management methodologies?

How about the ability to maximize team efficiency? So, my requirements are clearly defined and I don't expect to change my product backlog based upon feedback from sprint reviews. So what? I still get the advantage of a pull system for work (scrum team members self-assign work efficiently instead of waiting for a manager or a Gantt chart to tell them what to do). I get the advantage of keeping the team from multi-tasking and other work-robbing interruptions. I get the advantages of acceptance criteria and the Definition of Done. I get the advantage of clearly knowing my status at any given time without a lot of overhead. I get the advantage of team and workflow process refinement/improvement via retrospectives. I get a simple system that lets me track work and predict when the project will be done fairly accurately. I even get the ability to reassure my customers and stakeholders that I am on track because I can show progress at regular intervals. In short, I get all of these advantages without any disadvantages... and I get a much easier project management framework to boot. The big bonus here is I get to show folks how an empowered team using a pull system can be much more efficient than the old command-and-control model while being easier to manage because they mostly manage themselves.

Sure, I can get some of these benefits of Scrum without running Scrum... but all of them? As easy as I can by just adopting Scrum?

Think what it would do to most organizations who don't value agility (the ability to react to change), to see the other benefits of Scrum and then realize they can get all this and the ability to course-correct without the pain and waste of throwing a lot of suddenly-obsolete work away. Being Agile means you can change but you don’t have to. Do what makes sense for your organization.

Many people dismiss the idea of trying Scrum because their organization is more interested in predictability than agility, not realizing that Scrum allows both. If whatever process you’re following now isn’t making you happy, maybe you should reconsider Scrum for all of these other reasons.

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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