Hard-Core Scrum, Common Scrum and Scrum (continued)

Since I published Scrum, Scrum and Scrum on this blog last week the piece has received a lot of attention and I’ve had a lot of feedback: comments on the blog, comments on Twitter and comments to me in person at Oredev last week.

On the whole these comments have been in agreement. My impression is that people find the posting a useful distinction between Synonym-Scrum, Hard-Core-Scrum (or ScrumTM as I’ve also called it) and Scrum-Lite (or Common-Scrum as it might better be called). In this blog entry I’d like to clear a few things up and reply to one particular comment from Kurt Häusler which I think deserves more attention.

Just to be clear: I’m not attacking Scrum here. I’m discussing difference in how it is perceived, what people call Scrum, and where I think “Scrum” is inconsistent (OK, that might be criticism.)

First terminology.

In using the term ScrumTM I am being sarcastic. Nobody owns a trade-mark on Scrum, anyone can use the term Scrum and the ideas in it. So lets stick with Hard-Core Scrum.

Scrum-Lite also seems to upset people, this name was meant to designate a form of Scrum which is not Hard-Core-Scrum. Lets use the term Common-Scrum because this is the way I most typically see the Scrum ideas implemented.

Next the issue of Project Managers, and to a lesser degree Architects and other specific roles on Scrum. Kurt wrote:

‘Anyway, anyone saying project managers and architects are not allowed in Scrum is simply wrong. Are they really saying that though? And are people saying that really representing a different meaning of the term “Scrum”?’

Taking it in reverse order: I am the one who says there are two-forms of Scrum. I think this makes a useful distinction which helps me, and I think others, understand the world we live in.

Kurt’s first question is the more interesting one, if the answer was “No”, if the world did have a homogenous view of what Scrum is the second question, and the distinction would be unnecessary.

So Kurt, the answer to the first question is a most definite Yes. I think the point is well made by Christin Gorman in her 10 minute video on Vimeo from the Roots conference – “Putting an architect in a Scrum team is like putting mayonnaise in a cake.”

Let me say straight away I’m not picking on Christin here, I actually agree with much of what she says and she is not alone in this view. There are other – better known – names who say the same thing:

  • In The Scrum Primer Deemer, Benefield and Larman say “there is no role of project manager in Scrum.” These words are in version 1.1, there is a Version 2.0 on the Scrum Foundation website which adds Bas Vodde to the author list and contains the same words. I haven’t read v2 in detail so maybe in contains more advice for project managers.
  • The Scrum Handbook on Jeff Sutherland’s website contains the same words – in fact the biggest difference to The Scrum Primer seems to be the author list.
  • I personally heard, several years ago, Craig Larman answer the question “What does a project manager do in Scrum?” by saying “If you have a project manager in a Scrum Team you are not doing Scrum.”

The important point is: Christin understands Scrum to mean “No project managers” and Kurt understands Scrum to allow project managers.

I sympathise deeply Christin’s point at the end of the video, if I may paraphrase: “lets save Scrum to mean what it was meant to mean”. I just happen to think this particular cat is out of the bag. Rather than trying to “save” or “reclaim” the name “Scrum” I prefer to differentiate.

Interestingly, as I have commented before (“When did Scrum start loving project managers?”) Ken Schwaber hasn’t always shared this point of view:

  • In Agile Software Development with Scrum Schwaber says “The Scrum Master is a new management role introduced by Scrum” and a little later “The team leader, project leader or project manager often assume the Scrum Master role.”
  • In Agile Project Management with Scrum Schwaber says “The Scrum Master fills the position normally occupied by the project manager. I’ve taken the liberty of redefining the role.”

Now perhaps I’m guilty of not checking my facts. I haven’t e-mailed any of these people to ask where they stand on Project Managers and perhaps I should have. (If any of you are reading this please feel free to comment.)

However, I don’t believe a definitive statement would make much difference. What if I had a statement from one of these people saying “Project Managers are in” (or out) ? There would still be people out there interpreting Scrum the other way. It is too late to change this now.

Personally I believe that overtime those who define what Scrum is – those named here plus a wider community – have changed their position on Project Managers. I suspect that in the beginning there was no anti-Project Manager bias. Then is crept in, and now it is less, or perhaps gone altogether.

The points I want to make are:

  • there is are different understandings of what Scrum is
  • I, and I think others people, find it useful to make a distinction

I really don’t care if you want to say “Common Scrum is not Scrum because…” or “Hard-Core Scrum because…” is not Scrum, because I’m not describing what should be, or not be. What I am describing here is how I find the world.

Comments please?


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