Scrum... But?

"We are supposed to do scrum, but we don't have (a full time ScrumMaster | a material task board | an electronic task board | management support | short sprints | long enough sprints | magic dust | ...) so we are really only doing ScrumBut. It sucks. Everything would be better if we could only do *real* Scrum".

Did you ever hear something like that? I have heard it a couple of times, and complaints like this seem to increase. At first I thought the idea of "ScrumBut" was funny and useful, but I have begun to dislike it.

Complaining about not being able to fully execute any given process is not what a software development team should do. Developing software is not about the process. It is not about Scrum vs. ScrumBut vs. Waterfall.

What is important, at the end of the day (week, sprint), is delivering. Providing value for our customers. Working software. And it is equally important to have some fun while doing it. Because I don't want to burn out. And because I don't want my other team mebers to burn out (or anybody, for that matter). Complaining does not help with having more fun.

Scrum has helped a lot of teams to achieve what is important. So there's a good chance that it can help your team too. But it's not the only solution. And scrum is not important for it's own sake. It is important because it helps organizations to delvier value.

Dreaming how everything would be better if we could *just* work a little bit different does not help either. Suppose my team's performance sucks, and we start to blame it on not having a full time ScrumMaster. Do we really expect *everything* to be fine if we had one?

Don't get me wrong. I know that the ScrumMaster is important for the success of a team. And I know that it is a full time job. And I know that short iterations, a task board and a lot of other things are important. But complaining or dreaming won't help.

What might help is trying to change the organization your team has to work in. You can convince your managers that your team needs a full time ScrumMaster. You can start to educate people in you organization about scrum. And this will (probably) work. But only in the long run.

But what can you do *now*? Inspect and adapt. Inspect: "We don't have a full time ScrumMaster". Adapt: Find solutions that make living with this situation easier. As a team. One step at a time. Do retrospectives. Change some little thing, every week. And: Don't forget what you have accomplished. Try to see what is already working. Celebrate the victories, even the little ones.

Don't complain or dream, act.

Update: I wrote a follow-up called ScrumBut... and the long run.

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My name is David Tanzer and I have been working as an independent software consultant since 2006. I help my clients to develop software right and to develop the right software by providing training, coaching and consultanting for teams and individuals.

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