I am passionate about the inclusive, team ethic that Scrum promotes. At face value it is a fairly simple framework to understand. It is, however, one that requires constant review and refinement to implement successfully.
Scrum is self-organising. It gives all members of a team an equal voice and stake in the work being carried out. For me, that is what makes it a great framework.
Time is the driver
It uses the measurement of time as its control. It enforces a predictable, rigid, time-boxed approach to all aspects of the development cycle. This applies to each sprint and the individual ceremonies.
As time is the known quantity, it allows the project team to accept other unknowns. It can appreciate that not everything can be defined and accepts and encourages changes to requirements. This allows the team to deliver quickly and responsively and adapt to changing conditions.
Everyone gets a voice
In my experience, one of the greatest benefits of Scrum is that it is very democratic. It gives everyone in the team a chance to air their views. I particularly find retrospectives energising, enjoyable and sometimes surprising. They provide an uplift at frequent intervals to revitalise the team. They also encourage them to communicate challenges and find areas for improvement.
Another perceivable gain, in my experience, is that it gives all team members ownership of the product they are developing. The Agile Manifesto promotes the principle of motivating individuals, giving them the environment to succeed and trusting them to deliver. If this happens, the buy-in that you get from those individuals to give their best to a project is extremely powerful.
Everyone can see
Scrum provides great transparency to all members and stakeholders. The whole process is open to scrutiny. Everyone involved can see the current work in progress, as well as the backlog and roadmap. This means they can influence the priority of these aspects. The openness of the planning and delivery of user stories gives all developers an opportunity to add their ideas, knowledge and experience to the requirements.
Definition of Done
The most important advantage of Scrum is that there is a potentially releasable product at the end of each sprint. This provides great openness to stakeholders and ensures that they can see rapid, iterative progress on their requirements.
A deliverable result every 2 weeks appears impressive to people on the periphery of the Scrum process. It helps to build trust in development teams – people who generally get bad press from those who don’t understand technology.
Expanding the framework
It is a tightly defined framework, where all elements must be implemented to be truly Scrum. I believe, however, there is scope to expand on the framework if it adds to the effectiveness of the team.
I have invented a new small ceremony and introduced in it to our process. I’ve named it ‘Show and Tell’. This is borrowed from a similar activity that my children have used in their primary school. It encourages team members to speak briefly about a new technique, tool or other innovation that they have discovered. They have 5 minutes or less to demonstrate this new resource to the rest of the team.
This helps to spread knowledge and provide an opportunity to introduce improvements and efficiencies in everyone’s approach, if appropriate.
Why I love Scrum
I like to improve, personally, and in the work I contribute towards. Scrum gives everyone the opportunity to examine what they have done at regular intervals and look at ways to make it better.
It also gives everyone the satisfaction that they can deliver something to be proud of every couple of weeks. Building more and more quality into a product makes a difference to the business or customer. Most importantly, it improves the experience for the users.