Why Scrum?

Why not scrum?

Until about January, our shop had been significantly process-encumbered. Where we could, those of us who cared implemented small strategies for improvement—preaching code readability, meticulous source control, building as if your code will still be in use five years from now and you will be the poor slob maintaining it—but we’re talking about an organization that lauded a Roles & Responsibilities Matrix of 99 line items, of which one said “Source code and executables.”

And then there was a culture shift. You could feel it. It felt like stepping on an invisible extra top step, and then seeing the sun break from behind four years of cloud cover. Leadership changed, and everything became possible.

My teammate Josh came to me with this notion of scrum, a light, responsive, democratic way of collaborating on software. He recommended a book, Ken Schwaber’s Agile Project Management with Scrum, which is always the best way to get my support on something.

This book made me want. Deeply and acutely, I wanted to work like that, to feel effective, productive, valued, and fast.

First we convinced our developer teammates, then our project manager, then our manager. We tried to convince our test lead, got a new test lead, and convinced the testers. Then our business partners (now, Product Owners), who were the easiest to win over of the whole bunch. We even convinced the process people, provided they were allowed to observe, document, and possibly codify our process. Permission had been granted. I felt drunk with relief.

Which was naive, of course. I still need to explain, justify, define, and defend, every day. The wanting has not in the least abated. In fact, after eight sprints and a successful deployment, love notes from users and cake from the Product Owners, and rowdy basketball games with our visiting India-based teammates, I couldn’t bear the idea of going back to waterfall.

So I’m visiting other teams, plucking up my courage to ask pointed but polite questions to senior managers, setting up speaking engagements, hanging out with other agile-oriented troublemakers, getting tips from my dad, and generally fighting the good fight.

It’s often scary and wearying, but absolutely worth it.

Blowing Off the Blog Dust