Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Scrum is Dead, Long Live Scrum


"The king is dead, long live the king!"
People continue to be subject to the king even though the new king may be far less of a monarch than the previous one.

I recently attended the Scrum Gathering 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden.
It was great to see some of the old faces again and its great to recharge and re-energise by talking to like-minded "agilists".

The best day by far was the Tuesday when we did Open Space. This is when you're able to vote with your feet and be involved only in those topics you're interested in.

As a Scrum Practitioner I was able to both support people new to scrum, as well as talk to other practitioners and trainers about larger issues. These issues included integrating scrum within corporate governance models, contracts for agile methods and lean initiatives across companies outside the direct software development capability.

What was disappointing but not wholly unexpected, was the considerable shift from an informal gathering of like-minded people interested in learning and sharing scrum experiences, to a commercially-oriented, brand aware business conference.

The flagrant use of corporate presentations, and the "selling" of agile products and services by consultants and trainers alike really disappointed me. Obviously, there's now some real money to be made with agile and scrum and the bandwagon is super-charged.

Ultimately, Jeff Sutherland's joint corporate presentation promoting off-shore agile teams clearly showed to me that the old Scrum is dead. If the purity of a methodology cannot be maintained at its source, and promoted as the ideal, then those compromises will filter down and out across the board.

The message at the source of a methodology, which are the scrum gatherings, should be about the "ideal" and "pursuing perfection". The open spaces then become discussions about how to overcome obstacles preventing that goal through sharing experiences.

I'm hoping that other attendees provided similar feedback that reflected the frustration with corporate presentations and the need to revert to a more intimate, open space approach for the entirety of the next gathering.

I am however resigned to the fact that commercial gain will further dilute the real value of scrum until it becomes a shadow of its former self.

Scrum is Dead, Long Live Scrum!

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