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There is a lot of talk about "Agile Development" these days, and I'm noticing that one particular brand is starting to get a good strong foot hold.


I'm talking about Scrum.  It's not a methodology, it's a frame work, and while that may just sound like semantics to you it's kind of important.  Methodologies tend to lock a company into a tight inflexible .... well, methodology.  What makes Scurm different is that it's as much principle as it is practice.


I'm sure most everyone is aware of the concept that "principles must take precedence over practices".  If you are not familiar with this concept, it's the difference between the spirit of the law verse the letter of the law. 


The reason this is relevant is that a framework embodies principles, while methodologies embody practices.


But I'm getting off track here.  The main thing I wanted to put out here is that one of the largest advantages to Scurm as a framework to do your development with in, is the very position of Scrum Master. 


The main thing that a Scurm Master brings to the table is that they are responsible for maintaining and enforcing the rules of Scrum.  This means that you have one person dedicated to insuring that everyone they come in contact with understands how and why Scurm works.  They know what they are doing that is "Textbook Scrum" and they know where they are adapting.  They can tell you if your team is doing "Scrum", or "Scrum But".  I can not begin to explain how important this is, if for no other reason than a simple rule, "If a team doesn't have a Scrum Master, they are not doing Scrum".  No if's, no and's, no but's .... not Scrum.  It may be Agile, it may be Lean, but it's not Scrum.


If you have ever worked with eXtreme Programing before, you may understand how big a deal this is.  I can not begin to tell you how many teams I've heard of that have said, "Oh, we tried XP, but it didn't work" .  The odds are that they tried to pick and choose which XP techniques to use, and then did them poorly.  I've run into teams that said they were doing Scrum, but when I asked them who their Scrum Master was, and how long had they been certified, the answer came back, "Oh, we used to have a Scrum Master, but they've moved on to another position, so we don't have one right now."

I had to tell this person, that while they may be doing some form of Agile Development, they weren't doing Scrum, if they have success, great, but if they have failure, they did it while not using Scrum.


This is not to say that a project can not succeed even if they have a Scrum Master, but even the team that I did see using Scurm, and failed, they had the role of Scrum Master as a rolling position that passed from person to person after just about every sprint.  Did I mention that the project was not successful? 


So what I'm getting at is, the Scrum Master is an important role and it's one that takes a life time to master.  I'll admit that it's a silly name based on how a ball is put into play in rugby. 

The Scurm Master plays the role of facilitator and coach.  In theory if the product owners and the development staff had everything put together, the Scurm Master role could be eliminated, much the same way that professional sports teams don't need their coaches.  Oh wait, ALL professional teams have a coach.  Maybe there's a reason for that.

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007 6:30 PM Agile Development | Back to top

Comments on this post: Some of the biggest advantages to using Scrum in your organization

# re: Some of the biggest advantages to using Scrum in your organization
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I agree with the ScrumMaster having a very important role in Scrum, and not having one means you're not doing Scrum. But how is having a ScrumMaster an advantage in your organization? Having one still does not mean you are doing Scrum, is A requirement of doing Scrum, not the ONLY requirement.

You say you cannot begin to explain how important having a ScrumMaster is, yet that might be exactly the point why Scrum works in an organization. Please start explaining!
Left by - on Aug 01, 2008 2:32 PM

# re: Some of the biggest advantages to using Scrum in your organization
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Dear anonymous commenter

If you are interested in a conversation I will be happy to have one, but I'm not about to "start explaining!" anything.

Without knowing anything about your background and your interests in implementing Scrum in your organization, the odds of me responding with anything relevant to your non-question are between slim and none.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in a deeper understanding of Scrum. In the meantime I suggest that you join the yahoo scrumdevelopment list.

Good Luck
Left by Malcolm Anderson on Aug 02, 2008 5:13 PM

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