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As laid out in our awesome agile infographic, “Scrum” is a framework, or set of practices and rules, that thrive on changing requirements and an iterative approach.
Interestingly enough, the framework itself is often implemented in a brutish, “set-and-forget” style – which is quite the opposite of how it is meant to be practiced.
Setting the scene
As a quick history lesson, Agile is a methodology traditionally used in software development, but has since adapted and been applied as an alternative to traditional project management. It was founded with these four core values, which are expanded upon in the Agile Manifesto.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Quality deliverables over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
While the items on the right do hold value, the Agile methodology is based in the belief that the items on the left are more valuable. Understanding and imagining how these values apply to your business is the first step, before anything else.
Fitting the framework
Every Scrum class has attendees who were sent on an important mission: understand the framework and bring it back for implementation.
“My company does ‘x’, how do we fit into Scrum?”
This is asked in every class, and while it is my favorite question, it is also the most valid question that is on the minds of everyone else in attendance. While the instructors are fantastic, it would take foundational and tribal knowledge of an organization to answer with any sort of tactical depth.
It isn’t so much about fitting into the framework as it is placing pieces of it into the frame of your organization, and doing this in iterations. Your business is not a simple thing, it is hand-crafted and well-maintained – and it isn’t going to magically mold itself into a new and improved version.
Here are some tips to successfully bring Scrum into your organization:
Sign up for a Scrum class: Reading about Scrum is certainly valuable, but nothing beats the live environment of learning from an expert and getting immediate answers to questions. Start small, with at least two team members in an introductory session. Down the line, encourage team members who are managing projects to take official Scrum certification classes.
Don’t try it all at once: Identify a Scrum practice you think your process will benefit from, and put it to the test. If a team is having issues committing to too much work, plan a one-week sprint where they commit to the work they are accountable to deliver. Start holding daily Scrum meetings to increase visibility and collaboration. Conduct a Sprint Retrospective and reflect on the most recent initiative as a team to discuss what went well and what didn’t. Pick any one of these and when it’s refined and working, then add another element of Scrum.
Don’t implement software solutions first: As laid out in the four agile values, individuals and interactions are more important than processes and tools. There is no tool out there that will implement Scrum for you, and the framework should be in place and understood well before money is spent on solutions. After all, Scrum ceremonies started with lots of whiteboards and sticky notes – and they still work just as well today.
Onboard with an expert: This is an excellent way to get your teams into an agile mindset. Even after a class, most are wondering how to bring Scrum into their organization, and an onsite Scrum coach can advise your business more personally to help mold the framework. If you decide to implement an agile software solution to manage your new process, consider hiring a training consultant to assist with initial setup and start off on the right path.
Putting it to practice
As Justin analogizes marketing expertise with Karate Kid, Scrum must be practiced daily to form a habit, and deliberately in order to become a master. Whether applying pieces of the framework or implementing Scrum as a whole, the value is gained not only by repetition and structure, but even more from the increased visibility, accountability and quality that Scrum strives to maintain.
Over the last decade, Scrum has proven itself as a heavy-hitter in all types of professional industries as well as personal applications. Use this blog and check out our agile infographic for a closer look at what Scrum is made up of, and start implementing Scrum in your business – one step at a time.
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