Scrum means being incremental

Alexandra Weber Morales
November 6, 2013 —  (Page 1 of 5)
Success comes with its own set of demands. Whether Ken Schwaber likes it or not, 2013 is the year of the “agile market,” and Scrum has reached the boardroom. The software development process Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland first presented at OOPSLA’95 is now the predominant technique used by agile software engineering teams. It faces new growing pains, however, as entire organizations try to adopt it, and new continuous delivery models bring complementary techniques (such as Kanban) to the fore.

Capitalizing on this momentum, Boulder, Colo.-based agile tool vendor Rally Software made an initial public offering in April 2013, and companies such as Atlassian and CollabNet could be next in line to IPO. Ever the “robe-and-sandals Agilista,” to use Microsoft principal program manager Aaron Bjork’s label, Schwaber shakes his head at all this.

(Scaling agile, according to Bjork: Getting agile to scale up)

“I was at a [Department of Defense] conference back in 2002. The CMMI people and a couple of us from the agile community were on a panel. At that time, CMMI was big, with lots of expense and consultants who would come in and make you Level 2, Level 3, etc. Bill Curtis and Mark Paul said, ‘We don’t think we have any difference in goals from people in the agile community. We all intend to improve the profession of software development,’ ” said Schwaber.

But CMMI had become commercialized, with an explosion of consultants and products. “The moment that happened, the initial purpose was lost. The guys on the panel asked us, ‘How will you cope with it when this happens to the agile community?’ ” Schwaber continued. That moment has arrived, bringing with it methodologists, consultants and vendors. But not without protest.

Scrum, Schwaber maintained, has “worked very hard not to come up with a methodology. I have a Scrum methodology that I developed in 2003. It’s very prescriptive: Do this and you’ll be agile. But I put it away. Someone said all these fads run about 10 years, it’s time for the next thing. But Scrum is based on values, like we stated in the Agile Manifesto. If the values take hold, we succeeded.”

Related Search Term(s): agile, Ken Schwaber, Scrum

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11/06/2013 01:18:15 PM EST

Thank you for your article! Why would I be upset by this? My mission has been to improve the profession of software development. I have never deviated from it, including the management of software development and the organizations that benefit from the value. I feel that our improvement is become more critical as time passes. I welcome and cherish those that also work towards this goal. I have always had problems with organizations and people that put the goal second and making money from it first. Scrum on, Ken Schwaber

United StatesKen Schwaber

11/11/2013 05:08:01 PM EST

I'd just like to see that data that Bjork is alluding to about Kanban being a more mature concept. There are synergistic movements that can (and do) occur over time between Scrum and Kanban. But continuous flow isn't just a sign of maturity in a team, but in the place in the lifecycle of a "product" (be it what have you), regardless of whether it's "boxed" or something that's continuously updated or refined as time goes by? The reason some say "Scrum doesn't work in the boardroom" may have more to do with how CxO's are trained to think, and the "disruptive" and expository nature of highlighting areas of failure (primarily those dealing with Accountability). Any tooling that sheds light on any "questionable practices" is bound to get smacked with skepticism, and derision. Clara Peller said back in the 80's, about beef....Where's the data, Bjork? Publish it.

United StatesMarcelo R. Lopez, Jr.

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