Sunday, January 3, 2010

Scrum in 100 Words or Less

[Update 9-Jan-10: See Comment 3 for a revised formulation of Scrum in 100 Words.]

If Scrum is so simple, why is it so hard to describe? Tobias Mayer recently launched the idea of Simple Scrum - Scrum reduced to its essence. I think the essence Scrum can be defined even more concisely - in 100 words or less. 100 words, which will be understood by the novice, without using the Scrum lingo -- Product Owner, ScrumMaster and other such words are not allowed.

The Essence of Scrum in 100 Words:

Scrum is an empirical management process for addressing complex problems that ensures effective communication between a Requester and an implementation Squad. The Requester represents the interests of all stakeholders. The self-organizing, interdisciplinary Squad produces finished outcomes at regular intervals in response to prioritized requests. They measure their progress in terms of finished outcomes.

The maximum interval is 30 days. After each interval, the Squad has produced an improved product or service and made themselves more productive and happier. A Court Jester helps Requester and Squad improve their performance, and encourages positive change in the rest of the organization.
(actually 98 Words)

The Court Jester?

Why did I call the ScrumMaster a Court Jester? Court Jesters were the original change agents. They were trained and expected to criticize their kings and queens. How would you like to be a Certified CourtJester? Could be fun, could be dangerous...

The Essence of Scrum defines the 'What'. I think you can derive all of the 'How' from this definition. Have I missed anything? How would you describe Scrum in 100 Words or less?

6 comments:

Peter said...

"I am sorry I have had to write you such a long letter, but I did not have time to write you a short one" - Blaise Pascal. It is hard to summarize something as complex as Scrum in 100 words.

Never have I written an article about Scrum which has created such a divided response from dzone. Why? And where are the comments? In any case, I am sure I will need to revise this "Essence of Scrum" - and probably there are several ways to look it it!

Tobias Mayer said...

I enjoyed your Scrum in 100 words. I reckon it summarizes the essential nature of Scrum. Not sure how it would appear to someone who didn't know anything at all about Scrum or Agile. Have you tested it out on that audience? That would be interesting.

Peter said...

Hi Tobias,

I am discovering that the essence of Scrum is very hard to pin down. Scrum means different things to different people.

I got a well deserved lump for the original opening line. Coming up with new names wasn't really helpful. And the ScrumMaster role is so complex as to defy using an existing name. The "Court Jester" has interesting similarities, but also created other wrong impressions.

I've been filing on the formulation ever since I published it. Here is the current version:

Scrum is a simple framework for solving complex problems. Scrum encourages common sense, effective communication and rapid self-improvement among the stakeholders.

A requester represents the interests of all stakeholders. A self-organizing, interdisciplinary team produces finished outcomes at regular intervals in response to prioritized requests. They measure their progress in terms of finished outcomes.

The maximum interval is 30 days. After each interval, the team has produced an improved product or service and made themselves more productive and happier. A special person helps requester and team improve their performance, and encourages positive change in the rest of the organization.


My main beef is that this defines a process. It's the How, not the deeper Why. Next iteration...

Cheers,
Peter

Carlton Nettleton said...

I was inspired by your post and tried a version of my own.

http://lookforwardconsulting.com/?p=826

Peter said...

Hi Carlton,

Thanks - Inspiration and self-motivation are what drive us to greater things!

I like your emphasis on collaboration between the players.

I am just little uncomfortable with team as the most important player. I had often thought of Scrum as a game with a referee and two equal players. How have you experienced the roles?

Cheers,

Peter

Henri said...

I can understand why you would want to avoid using the role names "Product Owner" and "Scrum Master". I'm just not too sure why you use "Squad" instead of "Team". I guess "Team" is a quite neutral term and I was wondering what advantage you see in calling it a "Squad".

Other than the terms used, I find this definition of Scrum pretty good. Although it's of course difficult to describe something complex in only 100 words. Also I feel it's more of a description of Scrum rather than the Essence of Scrum. It's maybe only me, but I'd expect from the Essence of Scrum less focus on the what it is but more on the "why" or on "what is special about it".

I enjoyed reading your post.