Making agile work for you

The real issue with agile is the way in which the standard Scrum ceremonies are typically “rolled out” in a fixed 2 or 3 week sprint process.

Those naturally creative individuals who are work within this rigid framework find it restrictive, not necessarily aligned with value generation, and simply boring at times.

The modern Scrum Master role within this fixed structure often entails setting up room bookings, taking meeting notes, educating the “Product Owner” on how to perform their role, chasing people to attend Scrum ceremonies, updating Gantt charts and management RAID logs.

None of this is particularly agile.

I say this having recently returned from a Scrum Master community of practice event and seen for myself the high rate of Scrum Master burnout and turnover within the industry. Interestingly, one objective of this self-initiated community trying to better support each other was to address and seek ways to retain Scrum Master talent.

A team I worked in years ago (before “agile” became popular) would insist on improving their process at the end of each and every sprint.

The actual ceremonies, how they were run and how often etc, were frequently modified in the pursuit of continuous improvement. They would often literally “tear down” the Scrum board, so they could experiment with a new format and not be constrained by past thinking. I’ve not seen this done anywhere since, at least not to the same extent.

In fact, changing the agile process is often not even considered and/or seen as taboo. Many Scrum Masters essentially just end up overseeing a fixed process.

I can imagine a future tipping point where enough agile transformation programmes have not delivered the expected benefits, such that the agile teams themselves will be faced with changing and iterating their own working practices in pursuit of these gains.

Now that really would be agile.

If you are unhappy with your development team, they may need more detailed guidance.

Better software requirements can help with this.

Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly remote, outsourced and offshore development teams working in financial services.

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