Scrum has an enormous and encouraging community. There are over 1000 books about scrum on Amazon, 503 articles and guides on Scribd, and 107 online-courses on Udemy (5 of them are for free) and that’s not all. There are Meetups, conferences and gatherings around the world.
You can buy software like JIRA, which supports any agile-methodologies, including scrum. And there are tons of dudes willing to train and coach your team. Some trainers even earn a few bucks a month!
So what exactly is Scrum?
Scrum is a way to organize and revolutionize work in the spirit of agile. It helps to release and improve the product quickly within a constantly changing market. It is often assumed that scrum is a methodology. That is not true, it is a kind of framework. So, what’s the difference? A methodology gives clear instructions on what, how and in what order to do something. As an example, it requires a manger to analyze the department’s work every Friday.
A framework sets general rules for the work, but doesn’t give ready-made instructions for all the cases at work or (even worse) in life. Employees follow scrum’s rules, but they change the workflow themselves. For example, they regulate how often they need to review the team’s work, how many team members should participate in meetings, and what documents are required.
Let us take a closer look on what rules scrum framework set for employees, workflow and tools.
The benefits of a “Scrum-team” and a “Scrum-workflow”
We hope you figured out that in scrum the employees do not work on their own, they are a part of the ship and the crew. The small team size is what makes it more effective with an ideal number varying from 3 to 9 people.
So, a team is a group of specialists who create a Product from the beginning to its logical end. In a typical company, programmers are sitting next to other programmers, managers with managers. Everyone has become used to considering a team as a group of specialists of one profession. In agile, it’s the other way round. The scrum team is formed from professionals taken from different fields. It is no wonder that this kind of team looks at the product differently, and unexpected solutions are born thanks to the intersection of their opinions.
Let us use the scrum-team of the bakery as an example. This team includes a chef, a technologist, a confectioner, a baker and a salesman. They have started making brand new cakes together. The sales-manager says that mushroom pies are the least frequently bought by clients, and in addition stakeholders prefer an interesting shape.
The team takes into account this advice, and as a result they bake triangular patties with cherries, which are flying off the shelves.
In scrum there are no entrenched power hierarchies. A typical company has a chain of executives and subordinates. Some staff members do what they are ordered by others. In Scrum, executives do not command each other, they work together.
Anarchy does not exist in scrum. A Product Owner works together with a team. They are the people with the vision of what the staff members are going to do, make or accomplish. The Owners of the Product take into account risks and rewards, what is possible, what can be done, and what they are passionate about. They do not direct the team, but set priorities before the beginning of the cycle and answer the questions of specialists during it.
The whole team is responsible for the result. If the result is a failure everyone is responsible, plus no one is looking for a scapegoat among the team. The entire team is trying to find the cause of the problems and corrects it. They can take fewer tasks, involve some expert personnel or try out new equipment.
Team members help each other. The principle “one for all, all for one” works perfectly here. In case one of the team members doesn’t succeed in doing his tasks on time, others get involved and helped out.
Scrum-working means sharing work on a big task for many small cycles or Sprints. The maximum duration of a Sprint is a month. Within each sprint, the team goes through four stages: planning, working, presenting the result and analyzing the work. All the stages are obligatory. At the end of each cycle, a visible result appears. During the sprint, the team must create a product or add to the existing a new function that stakeholders need. If in the end the client does not see the result, then nothing is done.
For instance, two bakeries decide to sell not only bread, but also cakes. Let us see what is ready after two weeks of work.
In a traditional bakery, to create an ideal recipe, 25 options for the filling are developed and approved. The accountant calculates the cost of ingredients, but the new baked creations are still unavailable to the customers. Clients do not even suspect that there will be cakes in the bakery.
In the scrum bakery they took 2-3 ready-made recipes from the Internet, baked and laid out on the counter. This means, visitors can buy cakes immediately in the bakery.
The workflow is constantly changing. After each sprint the team discusses the process of work, finds problems, decides what and how to improve. The solutions are already introduced in the next sprint, so that the team is working better each time. Conducting sprint retrospectives allows the scrum team to continuously improve such team-specific factors as tools, processes, work environments, and relationships.
Plus, there is no paperwork involved. Scrum-professionals make only the documentation that will be helpful in their work.
The goal in scrum is to find the right balance between documentation and discussion
The many opportunities to inspect and adapt throughout scrum projects allow all members of the project team – product owner, the development team, scrum master, and stakeholders – to exercise control and ultimately create better products.
Our team adopts a number of scrum agile systems and sometimes without knowing it. We begin each day by standup meetings (5 to 10 min.) to review what has been done yesterday, what are we working on today and what are the blockers, so each person can help or assign the other, depending on the skills and the charge. Plus, we propose retrospective with the clients, allowing them to become a part of the discussion with the whole team. Agile is one of the things that keep us happy and motivated, and it allows us to keep our customers satisfied by early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Scrum programming and your family
As it turned out, scrum is not only favorable at work, but even in family life. So, if you want to deal with chaos in modern family life, go agile!
The American writer, Bruce Feiler, spent a number of years trying to answer questions about stress reduction and problems including ‘how to draw family closer and happier?’ or ‘how to prepare our children to enter the world ?’. When he and his wife adopted a scrum system into their life, it resulted in a cut to parental screaming in half.
During this scrum agile model, they asked three questions each sprint : What worked well in their family this week, what didn’t work well, and what will they agree to work on in the week ahead? It gave access to their innermost thoughts!
The key idea of scrum is that teams essentially manage themselves, and it works in software and it turns out that it works with kids.
According to Bruce Feiler, there are three planks of Scrum-family:
- Adapt all the time. If you can’t have family dinner together with your family, meet them for a bedtime snack.
- Empower your children. Have rewards and punishments in balance.
- The last plank is telling your story. Spend some time retelling the story of your family’s positive moments and how you overcame the negative ones. If you give children this happy narrative, you give them the tools to make themselves happier.
Now you know, that Scrum is one of the most pleasant things in the world. When people enjoy what they do, the quality of their work and life will be greater and the possibility for innovation will be higher. Motivated and happy people are more efficient, effective and likely to stick around.