Learning Scrum is like learning to play Stairway to Heaven with tablature
|It will get you here:|
But most of us are trying to get here:
The difference involves tacit knowledge. It can’t be learned from a book but it can clearly be learned. You learn it by doing it and consciously paying attention with intent to improve. In the agile world we have lots of names for this: retrospective, kaizen, PDCA, feedback loop, etc. In reality it is called “learning”. It is the single hardest thing for “agile” teams to incorporate. If learning was easy we would all play Stairway To Heaven like Jimmy.
Scrum is not a multi-purpose tool to solve all problems at all times.
Scrum is a highly effective tool that is very useful for specific purposes in specific contexts.
Agile is a fully stocked kitchen. Choose the appropriate tools for your context.
Kanban helps ensure your kitchen is run efficiently regardless of what tools and processes you use.
I recently toured the Empire State Building and was struck by the project plan for its construction:
To put this in perspective here are a few facts about the project:
- Tallest building in the world at the time
- 410 days to complete
- 7,000,000 person-hours
- 3,400 concurrent workers at peak
- 5 deaths (considering the working conditions it’s amazing there weren’t more)
- $25M construction cost (in 1931 dollars)
- 47 tasks on the plan (66 if you include sub-tasks)
- Completed on time and under budget
- 83 years later it is still fully operational
Now think about the last project you worked on and ask yourself:
- Is this the first time something like this has ever been attempted?
- Does my project involve as many people?
- Does my project risk lives?
- Is my project budget (in today’s dollars) as large?
- Will the thing you are building be around in 83 years?
and finally, how does my project plan compare? I have personally seen a lot of project plans and every single one of them was substantially longer and more complicated, while the answer to all of the above questions was “no”. How about you?