Push on Brick Walls
5. Push on brick walls
Many people, before they learn to think empirically, try to squeeze Scrum into their current processes. They do this because they assume the current processes are "brick walls," meaning, impenetrable barriers that cannot be moved or changed. But so often that is not true. Processes, like everything, have a life cycle. Over time, their usefulness may fade and, in those cases, they should be replaced with new methods that better serve the organization. ScrumMasters, in particular, need to be willing to raise questionable practices so they can be evaluated.
Ironically, the fiercest impediment that is causing your company the most difficulty is exactly what you should look at fixing and, paradoxically, what you will most likely try to work around. Often, when people say, "We tried Scrum and it didn't work for us," what they really mean is, "We tried Scrum and raised an impediment that we find too painful to fix." Making a conscious choice to live with an impediment is one thing, refusing to see it exists is another. The latter is self-delusion, a dangerous practice in a competitive business environment. American business history is littered with companies that refused to see the light until it was too late.
It has been said that Scrum is not a methodology but a pathway. Scrum will not eliminate the problems in your organization. Quite the opposite: it tends to make them large, obvious and impossible to ignore. Then you have a choice. You can change ineffective processes and conditions or choose to live with them. As long as you make an active choice, there is no wrong path. There is no perfection in Scrum, only an endless cycle of action, inspection and adaptation. In this way, Scrum can help you respond effectively to any challenge, competitive threat or new market opportunity. You need only step onto the pathway to begin.
Angela Druckman is a Certified Scrum Trainer at CollabNet. Having served as a Product Owner, ScrumMaster and team member, Angela has seen first-hand how agile practices and Scrum, in particular, can lead organizations to project success. As one of CollabNet's Certified Scrum Trainers and a member of its ScrumCORE team, Angela helps organizations harness the Scrum framework's potential, conducting dozens of public training courses each year, as well as providing on-site, private coaching.
Prior to joining CollabNet, Angela served as a senior project manager at Vertex Business Services. While at Vertex, Angela not only coached client project managers and development staff on the implementation of agile software development practices, but also justified the framework's business value to internal senior management. Angela's previous experience also includes working as a program manager with B-Line, LLC, where she developed custom solutions for the nation's largest purchaser of bankruptcy receivables.
A graduate of the University of Washington, Angela studied computing and software systems. For more on Angela's thoughts about Scrum, visit her blog at http://blogs.danube.com/author/angela-druckman. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.