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I interviewed a long time ago at a med tech company in Boston where Jeff Sutherland, one of the inventors of scrum, was the CTO (I believe). I had recently been through scrum master training at my current job and was quite keen to see how scrum was applied in the place where the guy who invented it was working. I asked my first interviewer how they used scrum on their team and his answer was that they didn't use scrum. I was pretty shocked. Then he explained that scrum didn't fit well with their team and the way they worked best together, whereas on some other teams they were really happy with scrum. Made me realize that's there's no one size fits all process for software teams. Some of these "pre-baked" processes can help teams depending on their composition and maturity, but teams/companies really need to find the way of working that works for them.



If you read his book, you'll see that he repeatedly drives the point home, that Scrum is not a set of pre-baked processes, but a philosophy around measurement, prioritizing, and continuous improvement. The cargo cult meetings and processes are more a product of the "Agile movement" that is championed by mediocre middle managers.


That's the problem though: any philosophy that cannot be implemented by a "mediocre middle manager" (i.e. most managers in most companies) is doomed to fail. And if it requires an "amazing" manager to succeed, the question is whether it's down to the philosophy or the manager.


But there are no managers in SCRUM. It is doomed to fail once methodology is thrown out and replaced with manager. I've been on SCRUM presentation in 2007. They explicitly stated - we help forming the team and go away.


> there are no managers in SCRUM

A philosophy that hinges around some ideal of how the world should be, rather than dealing with the world as it really is, often ends up being implemented as the exact opposite of that ideal. I can think of some historical parallels...


Just don't call it SCRUM.

Call it "fraud SCRUM because it sells so well" or "lipstick SCRUM so we look cool" or "didn't read SCRUM but we have meetings and sprints". SCRUM works, maybe not for everyone but this denies us a chance.


No True Scrum again...


Look, I've had good experience with SCRUM team. Later I've been searching for work, "SCRUM", interesting, interview, what? PM? Another place, PM? Yet another... I have not found. They would not tell that it is not SCRUM before interview. And oh, they failed so miserably, I knew how it works but couldn't do anything. It is regress.

So often it is PM who destroys project. I've seen good PMs. Two. Great guys. Great managers protects project from upper management and helps to resolve teams disputes. Others... They are like third wheel - developers like to build, business knows what to build, managers - exercise control.


> So often it is PM who destroys project.

How true! In my 30 years in the industry, I haven't experienced a single PM who was a net-positive (though I've heard that some are awesome), and some that simply made no positive contribution whatsoever.

I had one program manager who was awesome, even though we certainly didn't need a program manager (~40 person startup) per se. But she realized what was going on and then kept the PM (and everyone else) off my back so I could get the job done.

First and AFAIK only time in that company's history that a software project was delivered on-time.

Of course, after we shipped, it was all "congrats, but now you must do things properly like the rest of the company".

Not sure whether that's "sigh" or "LOL" or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


That's just it though: the fact that Scrum only works given this perfect "no management" ideal. It might work as a lightweight set of guide-rails in a self-motivated, experienced team which has 100% hands-off trust from management, but I'd argue that in that perfect-unicorn case Scrum is not the key to success but rather the fact that you have a good team and good management. In practice - as you are finding - this combination is very rare. Furthermore I'd argue that in the typical company with typical management, Scrum will lead to even greater micromanagement and overhead, and might actually be worse than, say, some version of ad-hoc Kanban-lite.


Yes, but not works but is. Scrum requires trust and autonomy. Otherwise it is a set of non applicable tools, jumping with parachute under water. I argue Scrum with PM is oxymoron, like round square. I know it is rare, earlier it was easier to find.

Why discussion is about Scrum, not Scrum tools application and awful project management? The language is subverted, why do you help it?


Part of the scrum retrospective involves a process review. You look at what is and isn’t working, then evolve your process accordingly. Sounds like that team decided that scrum wasn’t working, which means they used the evolutionary aspect of scrum as it was meant to be used. That focus on improving processes is the best aspect of scrum in my opinion, and the least used in my experience. Today, I mostly work on my own and am self directed, and boy... I don’t miss working in those old structured environments.


This reminds me of the anecdote about Harry Markowitz, the originator of what is called modern portfolio theory (which supposedly tells you how to allocate your money efficiently). When asked if he applied his theory IRL he said something along the lines of: Hell no, I just put a third in stocks, a third in bonds and a third in cash.

I think a theory of any kind that is not applied IRL by its creator should be seen with great suspicion.


So what did they use? Other than kanban I haven’t heard of anything other than scrum. And that is essentially scrum where you draw issues from the entire stack instead of biweekly choosing a subset of the stack to use.


There is no silver bullet




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