Sometimes you just have to . . .

You can never put a genie back into a bottle.  In I Messed Up A Scrum Team Should I Do Kanban? We described a scenario where a well-performing Scrum team had their Scrum Master replaced and troubles ensued. The question that was posed was whether—since scrum was no longer working—perhaps kanban should be adopted. Given the tumult at the team level, putting the genie back in the bottle and pretending nothing has happened is not a good strategy.  Assuming the leadership issues have been addressed the question returns to whether to recommit to Scrum, shift to Kanban or combine the two.

The Case For Scrum

Scrum is a simple lightweight framework that provides teams with a structure for planning, gathering feedback and adjusting. There are five strong reasons for this team to consider re-committing to Scrum.

  1. The team already knows scrum.  Re-committing is the lowest energy approach.  Jump back in by providing some coaching for the team and Scrum Master along with a re-chartering exercise to establish a common goal and commitment.
  2. Scrum has an identified structure for grooming and planning work.  The periodic planning and grooming ceremonies are geared for working on products and features.  The structure for planning provides guardrails to develop discipline and isolate the team from turbulent business environments.  Standard planning events channel stakeholders’ involvement and help to stop unplanned work from sneaking into development. In the scenario that spawned this discussion, the team is performing work that has been outsourced to them, therefore, controlling the flow of work is contractually relevant. Use the planning and grooming ceremonies to reground the team.
  3. TImeboxes create the impetus for breaking work down into smaller components. Large pieces of work can choke the flow of work if there is any delay.  Large pieces of work (stories) are a less efficient use of people and resources. My friend and colleague, Ben Woznicki, is fond of saying “if you have trouble fitting work into a time box, make the time box smaller.” Use constraints to help change perspectives of the team and to generate different outcomes.
  4. Scrum provides cadence and structure which provides stakeholders with predictability.  Predictability and trust are interrelated. Scrum’s ceremonies are a platform to tell stakeholders what you will do (planning) and then to show them what was delivered (demonstration). Adopt a fixed cadence.
  5. Scrum is a tool to build discipline. While lightweight, Scrum has a structure and a cadence. The ceremonies, deliverables, and roles establish a set of guardrails for the team to use to get their mojo back before considering other changes.

These are five strong reasons for a team to recommit to scrum. The recommitting to scrum might be as close to putting the genie back in the bottle and returning to a high performing state as possible. There are, of course, other alternatives.


Next – The Case for Kanban followed by the Case for Scrumban