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Monday, January 15, 2018

Scrum is Mutable

The Scrum Guide has changed a few times, and the most recent revision was published in November 2017. Although a number of people have contributed to defining Scrum over the years, the key parties and primary authors of the Scrum guide are Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. That Scrum has changed over the years should not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with it or with Agile in general. Change is core to Scrum, with 'inspect and adapt' being a key activity for teams. With this comes learning that can at times be universalized and shared with teams everywhere. When it is particularly compelling it becomes part of the Scrum standard.

Scrum is mutable.

Several months ago I was listening to an Agile podcast and end up shutting it off about 20 minutes in because the guests and the host attacked Scrum itself as a bad methodology and then turned around and complained that 'no one does Scrum right.' One guest seemed to think it was downright scandalous that Agile teams at a major corporation he visited didn't even know the Scrum Guide exists. As if they were Christian churches that didn't know about the Bible.

The Scrum Guide is not a sacred text.

Near the conclusion of the Scrum Guide there is an 'End Note' that I find infuriating:
Scrum is free and offered in this Guide. Scrum’s roles, events, artifacts, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum. Scrum exists only in its entirety and functions well as a container for other techniques, methodologies, and practices.
If anything at all varies from what is found in the Guide, we are not to call it 'Scrum.' I call shenanigans! Agile is about adaptability, among other things. Scrum is an Agile methodology that prioritizes teamwork to inspect and adapt. Teams adapt Scrum, in small and large ways, to fit their circumstances. Over time these changes might be adopted by other teams in other places, and even make their way into the Scrum Guide itself.

Scrum teams learn.

Finally, the Scrum Guide itself is made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence, which states:
You are free to:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
for any purpose, even commercially.
Someone  might argue that there's no conflict between the conditions of the license and the requirement that any variation not be called 'Scrum,' but that sounds like hokum to me. If you are a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and/or Scrum team, I suggest you try following the Scrum Guide to start (unless your company already has another standardized interpretation of Scrum it uses), and then inspect and adapt from there into what works for you. And yes, if you do so, it is still Scrum.