When my adventure at Elsis PRO started a new word came into my vocabulary all of a sudden and that is “scrum”.
Scrum is an agile framework used for software development, based on the idea that a long trip to the unknown is made of many steps.
You are told that somewhere, 1000 kilometers North from the place where you live, lies a beautiful place you know nothing about. In 7 days you should make it together with 3 of your friends without GPS.
That means 143 kilometers per day. You may think the best way is to take a car for the first three days, because you know roads are well paved for another 400 kilometers. After that you plan to proceed riding bikes, because you read somewhere that just at the end of the highway they recently opened a bike rental shop. Then maybe hitchhiking will become an option.
You do not know precisely the road, neither you imagine how the place will look like and, here is the news: it doesn’t count.
Imagine every night sitting for 20 minutes to get closer to solving the riddle. Analyzing what is left, what is to come, making assumptions: testing them the day after.
Everything happening into a light, well-defined framework: you basically cannot change the plan once the sun shines and you need to dedicate 20 minutes everyday to understand where are you going together with your friends.
My approach with things I do not know did not change much over the time: studying, practicing, finding my metaphors and trying to get closer to knowledgable professionals to learn from their experience.
The internet is full of information about the Scrum Framework (I have linked below some useful content) but my purpose was to keep it down to earth and try to explain how these same concepts can change the way we approach problems, the same way they have inspired me.
There is a lot more than mere software development here: this is why I have interviewed Alex Hardt, a Professional Scrum Master and trainer with a long career path spent in large and complex environment for companies such as Capgemini and Wolters Kluwer, to tell all of us what Scrum is and how this approach can be mind-changing for all of us.
How Scrum has changed your life, Alex?
As Scrum is a tool for continuous improvement, it improves my life a lot in different ways. The framework gave me direction and a great learning opportunity. Servant leadership is in my nature, I like to help people and see them grow, so I dearly love being a Scrum Master. To act out the stances of a Scrum Master, let me grow personally. As a Product Owner of my own life, I learned more ways to maximize its value. I am part of a big community of great people and curious about how this will go on.
How would you explain what Scrum is to a 5 years old boy?
An excellent question. I thought a while about a good explanation. The following description will be based on Scrum less as a framework and more as a mindset. People ask me often what I am doing and what Scrum is about, and my answer frequently is too abstract for them.
You have a very close connection to your mother and your father. You are an awesome team. Your parents do everything they can so that you have a beautiful life. You trust them and speak a lot with them to understand and learn all about the wide world.
It is often said that different project management paradigms (Waterfall, Kanban, Scrum and many others) work best in different environments and projects. Where Scrum performs at its best?
Scrum is the right solution when you are dealing with a complex challenge, where more is unknown than known. Using Scrum, you can use unpredictability as your competitive advantage. It is easy to understand, however hard to master. Generally, it needs a lot of behavior change for teams and organizations to bring out the full potential of Scrum. It solves no problem for you, but it is a fast way to show your issues. As Ken Schwaber said, „Scrum is for intelligent people“.
It got the de facto standard for agile approaches, for all that it might not be the best fit for your context. So, start with a pilot, inspect and adapt, to find your individual best possible solution.
You may get asked this quite often, what is the really best resource to get an understanding of what Scrum is for beginners?
For me, still, the best resource to get an understanding of Scrum is the „Scrum Pocket Guide – A smart travel companion“ from Gunther Verheyen. It is both comprehensive and small. For a long time on my journey, I used it as my reference book. It is a precious companion.
Interviewing Alex has been a beautiful experience. I hope his words have inspired you to get curious about the Scrum Methodology. I was glad to read that companies should find out their own way to approach this methodology, since this is exactly the approach we follow at Elsis PRO. If you are curious to know more, I would surely recommend to check this out: the Scrum Guide written by the same bright minds that firstly applied and formalized these concepts in the realm of software development.