Boiling a Scrum as a process evolution antipattern

I often face teams where everyone is claiming that they are working in Scrum. What do you mean – I challenge them – and I usually get similar answers.

  • We have Standups!
  • We have Retrospective at the end and we show what we did!
  • We are working in 2-month Sprints.

They often don’t need a Scrum Master (at least that’s what they claim). They name a Product Owner the person which is actually they Manager. They do lots of silly things that are easy to spot.

Recently I asked myself why is that?

Did they forget to read The Scrum Guide?

The first answer that pops in my mind is that nobody truly did that! They probably watched one or two movies on youtube and they have gone through one decent blog post. And that’s it. Don’t get me wrong I am not against any source of knowledge, but that shouldn’t be all that they tried. They should dig deeper and ask the question why things are done this way and not another?

Or did they boiled the frog?

The second possibility is that they boiled their process like a frog. They started from a good root. Let’s say they had decent Scrum Master long time ago and he was doing all the things that SM’s are doing. The process was going smoothly and they were performing as a team. Let’s assume Scrum Master quit his/her job. Obviously, nothing broke! There were no significant changes. And there was a strong temptation to not hire another one since the process is already well formed and everyone knows exactly what to do… And then step by step the team applied changes to the process.

  • Timeboxes were not so crucial, as 15 minutes won’t kill ya.
  • They don’t need to meet all together every day, twice a week is enough (we will have more time to code).
  • Estimating is also overrated, it’s easier when everyone will log time spent on the task. That’s the best estimate we can get right?

The result is that they boiled the process. They are not only not doing Scrum anymore. More important they are no longer performing. And until managers toss to the team someone with a fresh mind and a new point of view.. they might never find out.

Ok, but why should that bother anyone?

What I am saying here is that when some group of people is saying that they are doing Scrum, but it is obvious they don’t, there are two potential reasons, and honestly I don’t know which is worse:

  • They didn’t put effort into finding out what Scrum really is, they are just using it as an empty slogan.
  • They used to do Scrum, but they boiled it.

What you should do then? Start from the begging – gather them all and explain what are Agile principles, and what Scrum has to do with them.

Last but not least – remember what is ubiquitous knowledge. Scrum’s roles, events, artifacts, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum.