Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Scrum is a Mirror

I recently organised Scrum training for the internal development and PMO team here at Nine Entertainment, consisting of two days of Srum Master training for 17 project managers / lead developers and 1 day of effective user story writing for around 20 business analyst types. One of the things that the trainers said early on is that 'Scrum is like a mirror' highlighting the best and worst things about your product and development process.

Now, at first I didn't really grok this at all, but after mulling it over I am coming to the realisation that this is true. Retrospectives if done regularly and correctly highlight issues with your process very quickly - whether this be technical design problems, lack of responsiveness by the product owner, too much micro management by the scrum master, they can all come quickly to the surface and solutions be discussed. But it's not just the process that has a mirror held up to it's face, the product gets the same treatment every sprint review. The stakeholders get to answer the question 'is this the product we wanted?' time and again.

Compare this with a waterfall approach and the difference is clear. Lack of engagement by a product owner - we'll just make sure we document everything. Stakeholders not sure what they want - we'll force a decision and stick to it. Not sure if the design is up to scratch - don't worry it will come out in testing. Waterfall avoids looking at the process or product too closely and instead reassures itself by looking at deadlines and budgets - if we're meeting them we must be fine. No matter if we build the wrong product for the wrong people within the allocated budget and timeframe