27 March 2009

Scrum Method-ist or Pragmatist?

I did not go to the Orlando Scrum Gathering, but fellow agile pragmatist Paul Ellarby did.

Paul regaled the work-a-day rubes back in chilly Minneapolis with several Scrum-lando poolside posts to our Practical Agility discussion board. Aside from presenting Nourishing the Agile Project, Paul reported to us about various panel discussions.

In one, panelists Ken Schwaber, Alistair Cockburn, Mike Cohn, Ron Jeffries, and Jim Coplien responded to the question
Would you hire a coach who is not a Certified Scrum Master?
Ken replied, in good humor
as what? -- but then indicated he would not.
Knowing how little effort it takes to become a Certified Scrum Master, and knowing that the Scrum Alliance will certify schlubs like this, the naive nature of this hiring question got me thinking about Scrum dogmatists and the state of this thing we call Agile.

Some in our Practical Agility group, including Paul Ellarby and David Hussman, have expressed ongoing concerns about Scrum dogmatists. Maybe that is part of the life-cycle of any cultural movement; people dig in. What was once liberating and exhilarating, degrades in the clutches of method-ists. Something that's exhilarating and reminds us we're human, gradually degrades to hollow ceremony and empty ritual.

Most everything I have learned about Scrum came from Markus Silpala. Thanks Markus. Following are some lessons I'll carry forward.

Human Lessons From Scrum
  • Humans prefer democracy over dictatorship
  • Humans prefer rowing in the same direction and grooving on the power of communal oar strokes.
  • Humans find it easier to consume and digest a fat ham if cut it into bit-size pieces
  • Humans have the intellectual maturity to self-organize
  • Humans are most efficient when working with others in close proximity
Pragmatists are oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, while mindfully resisting the seduction of becoming a hammer is search of a nail.