Understanding Scrum #1

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Through my span of work in technology, I have encountered several companies that are using scrum for project delivery. I have also come across several teams that want to start using scrum but do not know where to start because they have been used to their ways or think that their teams are too small. I have also formed part of several Scrum teams on a variety of projects and have seen it in action. What is Scrum? How is it used? What is a Scrum team? I have spent most of my holiday time reading up, so I am happy to share some basic questions and answers that I have compiled. I will spread these across a number of articles.  So starting with the most basic question.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a process framework, not a defined process. It is a framework within which a team of people can address problems in an adaptive approach as a means to deliver products of the highest possible value. It tends to be hard to master because it is not a prescriptive defined process  of how to manage work. However, it is simple to understand.

The framework consists of what are called Scrum teams. Each member of the Scrum team has their role and rules and each has a specific purpose and is essential for the success of the delivery of the product.

The rules of Scrum are defined in the Scrum Guide.

What is Scrum used for?

Scrum can be used for the development of a wide variety of products. However it can also be used in the research, sustain and renew stages of a product also. When referring to products, this can be anything from software, hardware, vehicles, schools, organisations. The reason why it can be used across so many different interactions is because of its non prescriptive flexibility as a means to to deal with complexity. At its core, Scrum is; a small team of people that are highly flexible and adaptive in their work to develop, release, operate and sustain their operations in a collaborative way.

I have mostly seen Scrum used in technology and the development of software, and this is an area where it is highly widespread and used. However, it is not limited to this industry in any way and can used in many ways across various industries.

What is the theory behind Scrum?

Scrum is based on empiricism. Empiricism is a theory that asserts that you learn from experience and that making decision is based on what you know. Scrum takes this principle and applies an iterative and incremental approach to learning and making decisions. In this way it is easier to predict and control risks. It is built on 3 main pillars; transparency, inspection and adaptation.

Transparency: Everyone who is responsible for the outcome is aware of the process to achieve it. This means that the process is defined by a common standard and there is a common understanding of what is said. The team should share a common language and terms when referring to the process and must share a common understanding of what it means for something to be “Done”

Inspection: The team should stop and inspect what is done and the progress in order to detect any issues. It is important that this is not so frequent that it disrupts the work but frequent enough that it catches issues early.

Adaptation: If it is determine that there are some issues and that the result will not be acceptable according to the common understanding of what the outcome should be than an adjustment must be made to either the output or the process in order to minimise the issue.


In the next post, I will go into what the Scrum events are and what they are used for.  Meanwhile, if you have any comments or questions, do not hesitate to post comments below.