Learn the rules before bending it

A couple of months ago and, during one of the meet ups, some one asked me why the organizations are still struggling to implement Scrum? This question made me think a bit, and of course, thousand answers went past my mind within 0.9 seconds. But one answer that stood out in my mind was Shu-ha-ri principle.

We all know Shu-ha-ri, so, I won’t explain it here, but wanted to share my observations since the last few years before delving into the answer.

Since the last few years, I have made it as a practice to ask 3 questions to audience (in meet ups, trainings, etc)

Question 1: How many of you are implementing Scrum in your organisations ?

Typically all hands go up

Question 2: How many of you have read Scrum guide ?

Mostly, 5% of the hands go up

Question 3: How many of you are implementing Scrum as per the Scrum guide ?

Till date, it has been none.

So far, I might have done this poll with at least 300 people. Sometimes, I also probe, how are you doing Scrum?

Answers would be something like,

  • We have an Iteration Manager(idea taken from XP)
  • 2 product owners for the same product as one PO cannot handle (I call it Un-Scrum)
  • We also have WIP limits(one idea picked up from Kanban – Un-Kanban)
  • We do regular retrospectives and showcases(not sure who popularised showcases)
  • Our team has Kaizen mentality(juicy Japanese term)

I am sure all of us would have seen a mix and match of ideas taken from Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, etc. being called “Scrum,” which might look like Fred Carno’s circus.

May be there is nothing wrong with mixing and matching as long as we know what is the outcome of mixing.

Now going back to Shu-ha-ri principle, it is recommended that we apply the rules as per the recommendations first, before bending(modifying) the rules.

In the context of this post, if the teams are planning try Scrum, they need to follow the rules as per Scrum guide before bending the rules.

Unfortunately, teams start bending the rules first for various reasons even before learning the rules.  

As long as the teams and organizations continue doing the mishmash of ideas without even trying one of the ideas properly, we will be exactly where we are 20 years from now, probably with new jargons, new frameworks, more colorful post-its.

What has been your observation? Do you see what I see?

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