Thursday, January 21, 2010

Scrum is the "only sane, rational way to manage dynamic processes"

So... let me start with the setup. It was asked in the Agile Alliance LinkedIn Group whether the agile community is mature enough to coherently discuss a "maturity model". I was one of the first two to respond that answered down similar lines-
Mature enough, yes. Coherent, no.

Agile is a philosophy and culture. It is an umbrella term for a set of best practices... Scrum & XP being only two. I believe that getting everyone to agree on an AMM will either destroy the continuing evolution of the movement or marginalize non-core movements that are adding to it (think of Kanban/Lean in the last year).
The discussion continued on an interesting path including CMMi and other maturity models, the pro's and con's and various gut reactions to what this would mean. All good stuff.

But in the middle of this, Melvyn Pullen and I got on a tangent that started with him proposing an agile maturity model that was focused solely on Scrum for the first few steps. I questioned this since agile has many flavors, and enforcing Scrum as the first step seems limiting.
The problem I have with a maturity model defined this way is that it implies to all newcomers that it is the ONLY way. The manifesto was signed by 17 people of 7 methodologies/practices. They didn't identify Scrum as step 1 down that journey.
He responded with,
I believe that Scrum is the only sane, rational way to manage dynamic processes.
It is my opinion that Scrum is the only management technique that comes from the agile camp that could be used to introduce other agile processes.


  1. In my opinion, it really doesn't matter which methodology or process is used. As long as we work as a team, on a basis of trust, toward goals that are revised constantly so we can be as adaptive as possible.
    I guess that's why the manifesto talks about values, not processes.
    But of course you need something tangeable when starting to persue these values. That's where Scrum is a good start, thanks to the clear ceremony and wide adoption. I believe that after a while, a true agile organization will not use the words scrum or xp so much anymore.

  2. It would be possible to create an agile maturity model. The problem with CMMI (and other manturity models) is that they encourage "Level Hunting". "We are so good because we have reached maturity level 5" phenomenon.

    What I like with CMMI is that it is organised into process areas with a few goals for each area. Then there are a number of practices that shows how you could implement each goal. The goals are mandatory to fulfull, but practices are just examples.

    I think we already in some way have an AMM (Agile Maturity Model) in the Agile Manifesto. Values and Principles correspons to goals, but the example practitices and their connection to goals are missing. I consider Scrum to be on the practice level in this comparison.

    One bad thing about using a AMM model is that people stop thinking and slavishly follow the model. Maybe some parts of the model should by intent be empty, so that you need to think and improve?

    A problem with the non-existence of a recognized AMM and the existance of CMMI is that it is very hard to funding for a initiative to check the agility of projects in your company while it is much easier to get funding to start a CMMI initiative.

    Scrum is not nirvana. There will come other management techniques that will replace Scrum. We are continuously improving our way of working.

  3. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.