The Desired Focus of Scrum the Upcoming Years

On July 7th the Scrum community gathered in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) for the 5th edition of Scrum Day Europe. This years theme was ‘the next iteration’. Therefore we looked back to see what Scrum brought us the last 20 years, but also looked forward into the future of Scrum. Naturally, the evaluation was done via a retrospective. The goal was to generate insights and define improvements for the Scrum framework from the Scrum community. Every participant contributed and provided input; thereby it proved to be a true community event!

The 5 Retrospective Questions

During the day we asked everyone to answer 5 questions:

  1. What has proven to be the strength of Scrum the past 20 years?
  2. What should be the focus of Scrum the upcoming 20 years?
  3. What of Scrum frustrated you the most so far?
  4. What connects you to Scrum?
  5. What is a small improvement that could be added to Scrum?

In a series of blog posts I’ll share the answers we’ve received on these questions. This blog post will be about the focus of Scrum the upcoming years. I’ll share the filtered data and my personal opinion. Of course I’m also interested in your point of view!

Scrum Focus (1)

The Desired Focus of Scrum

According to the participants the focus of Scrum the upcoming years should be:

  • Support creating value driven organizations, focus on customer delight (9)
  • Enhance the framework for the whole organization (9)
  • Keep the simplicity (3)
  • Setup processes/gateways before the next sprint can start (2)
  • Offer more practices that support scaling Scrum (2)
  • Prove with the metrics that Scrum works! (2)
  • Keep innovating and adapting
  • Deliver working increments
  • Address interfacing with non-Scrum organizations
  • Setup practices to develop culture
  • Embrace the Lean mindset
  • Integrate DevOps principles
  • Focus on the Sprint Goal
  • Offer tools to check the sanity of the product incrementally
  • Collaborate with multiple independent organizations
  • Offer Scrum for corporate executives
  • Apply the Scrum in other “slow development” industries e.g. pharma
  • Have more discussion with critics to understand what they feel is missing in Scrum
  • Research how much Agile is “Agile”. Because some organizations abuse Agile.

My Humble Opinion

Out of all the suggestions made by the participants I would like to highlight three of them and share my take-aways.

Support Creating Value-Driven Organizations

My hope for the upcoming years is that organizations that use Scrum, also use contracts that respect the Agile mindset and start new Scrum projects with a focus on true collaboration. Therefore they embrace value-driven contracts. These are contracts that have a foundation build on transparency and trust. Such a contract stimulates effective partnerships and invites collaboration. A value-driven contract supports adapting new insights and processing gained knowledge. It encourages acting on necessary changes and lessons learned. A value-driven contract is lightweight and only contains the necessary agreements and constraints. A value-driven contract embraces the Agile mindset.

Practices that can be used with value-driven contracts are creating the product vision and Product Backlog together, determining the business value and dependencies together and starting small by only selling 1 Sprint in the beginning. These are practices that help build the necessary foundation of trust. And of course, quickly delivering valuable, working software is the ultimate way to gain trust. In the blog post ‘8 Best Practices to Start a Scrum Project‘ I’ve described these ideas in more detail.

Keep the Simplicity

In ‘The Strength of Scrum‘ I’ve described ‘simplicity’ as the most important strength of the framework. Scrum is simple to explain and understand, but difficult to master. It’s simplicity combined with the possible benefits explain why Scrum has become so popular the past 20 years. Based on the opinion of the Scrum Day Europe participants Scrum should keep this simplicity. Although this might seems easy, saying ‘no’ to all the possible additions to Scrum probably is extremely difficult. Recently I read ‘Scrum and XP from the Trenches‘ by Henrik Kniberg again. From this book I learned that maintaining the simplicity is already done consciously from the beginning. Let’s preserve this simplicity and hereby one the most important strengths of Scrum!

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Prove With Metrics That Scrum Works

“Show us the evidence that Scrum works” is a continuously recurring request. There are lot’s ‘good’ metrics available with evidence of Scrum’s success. For sure, not all the metrics are recommended. For example, don’t measure the success of Scrum only with velocity, iteration & release burn-down and planned versus actual stories per iteration. Why not? Read this article by Ron Jeffries. The best way to prove Scrum works is frequently delivering valuable, working software. This is where Scrum.org’s Evidence-Based Management for Software Organizations (EBMgt) could help out.

EBMgt is a process for measuring, diagnosing and improving the value an organization derives from its software investments. Its iterative, incremental approach to guided change helps organizations control the risk of disruption, and to compete through its software capabilities.

To be honest, I’m not an EBMgt expert. However, I do see it’s potential. Especially considering the desire of the Scrum Day Europe participants to prove with metrics that Scrum works. Maybe the EBMgt process offers organizations some guidance in this area. I’ll do some research on this topic the upcoming period, if you’ve already tried it: please let me know your experience.

What’s Your Opinion?

This is the 2nd blog post about the Scrum Day Europe 2016 Retrospective. In the first blog post I’ve described the strength of Scrum. This part is about the desired focus of Scrum the upcoming years. According to the participants it should be about creating value-driven organization, enhancing the framework for the whole organization and preserving it’s simplicity. I’ve shared some of my thoughts about the value-driven organization, the simplicity and proving with metrics that Scrum works.

What do you think that should be the focus of Scrum the upcoming years? Would love to know your point of view!