Some projects require the use of the Scrum framework due to the dynamics of project requirements, changing needs and markets. There are many complex design issues that could be easily solved with the use of Scrum principles of iteration, inspection, and adaptation.
The article is inspired by the publication “Why Organizations Should Use Scrum and Agile Methodologies and When They Don’t Use Scrum” originally posted on ScrumTime.org
However, many companies intentionally do not want to use Scrum. The article reveals the real reasons for this escape from reality.
The benefits of Scrum
The benefits of Scrum implementation in the organization’s manufacturing processes are many and indisputable. However, along with them, there are natural risks and problems that can arise in the process of working.
The central cause of dysfunction in the Scrum process is misunderstanding and non-compliance with its principles.
A thorough understanding of his ideology is the basis of good Scrum practices. In order for it to function properly, it needs to become part of the essence of the organization, otherwise, it will not accept it and will reject it naturally as a “foreign body”.
Illustration of the Scrum process
To illustrate this, let’s imagine the Scrum process as a thermophilic flower planted in an environment with a constant air temperature below zero degrees Celsius. Not only will it not flourish and flourish, but it also will not survive at all. Similarly, Scrum cannot exist or develop an organization that does not properly understand or know its ideology at all. It simply cannot see and evaluate its effectiveness, nor allow it to unleash its potential for improving production and work processes. If this factor is present, there will certainly be attempts for direct intervention that would result in a disruption of the Scrum team’s work.
This poses the second problem in the functioning of the Scrum process, as a derivative of the main one – external intervention by senior management, customers and other outsiders to the Scrum process in order to control it. This can lead to difficulty or inability to complete the daily tasks of the Scrum team. With the Scrum Master’s untimely intervention to play the role of mediator, channeling the negative influences on the team, the result can be detrimental to the process. Internal conflicts, tensions and mistakes occur, and from there a decline in their overall presentation.
The reason for Scrum’s inefficient functioning may be internal. This raises several new potential problems with the team itself, rather than with the environment or other external factors.
Scrum and solving complex problems
Solving complex problems in Scrum practice and adapting to them is based on the experience, skills, knowledge, and skills of the team, as well as their ability to work together. In practice, it is not possible in one group of people to have the same experience, skills, and personality.
Scrum enables free expression, enriching both the work processes and the product produced, as well as everyone in the team. However, this process is voluntary, which means that each participant must consciously undergo personal and cultural changes in order to become part of it. An effective Scrum team must properly learn and apply the Scrum principles in their work until they all enter a cycle of continuous improvement.
If this is not a prerequisite, the lack of experience and skills and competencies of the team member becomes a huge obstacle for everyone else, as it may or may not be willing to fill these shortcomings.
The two basic skills needed for Scrum
The two basic skills that one must possess or acquire and develop in order for the Scrum process to be effective are the self-organization skills and discipline and teamwork skills. A shortfall in these two relationships can be a huge obstacle to the proper functioning of Scrum and a prerequisite for poor results.
The freedom of work provided by the Agile environment can easily lead to problems with the behavior and work of the team if there is a lack of a conscious attitude to organize the time properly and to complete the tasks in a quality and timely manner. This leads to the second problem – the lack of teamwork skills. Individual performance influences teamwork. That is why it is important that it is adequate and that there are good self-discipline and constant upgrading.
On the other hand, there may be a problem at the other extreme – over-ambition and a desire to roughly impose a leadership position, opinion and point of view on a person on the team. Allowing this situation to exist and even develop without preventing it can lead to a decline in motivation. This, in turn, causes annoyance, reduced desire for expression, internal conflicts, undermining the Scrum Master’s authority, as unable to cope with the problem, and ultimately a decline in overall team performance.
Proper functioning of the Scrum process
Of particular importance for the proper functioning of the Scrum process and the control of negative situations are the experience, knowledge, and skills of the Scrum Master. It is important that he knows and understands Scrum principles well in order to apply them properly. To monitor and identify fluctuations and problems with its understanding by the participants in it, so that it can adequately deal with them, motivate people and involve them in the process.
From what has been said here, we can define several major problems in the work of the Scrum Master, which jeopardize the effectiveness and self-improvement of the team:
- Limited or no knowledge of the Scrum ideology by the Scrum Master.
Lack of observation and self-initiative in situations that are potentially harmful to the team.
- Lack of ability to empathize, lead and guide your team.
- Limited communication skills, failing to benefit his team and help him cope with difficulties and problems that arose.
- Lack of organizational skills, as a result of which he does not organize the team meeting time effectively enough, disrupts time-boxing. This leads to unnecessary lengthening and shifting of focus, which reduces productivity.
Last but not least is the transparency issue, which is one of the most salient features of Scrum. In addition to undeniable positives, it gives rise to certain negatives.
There are issues that some executives are particularly sensitive to as they perceive this phenomenon as demonstrating vulnerability and mismanagement. This perception can lead to serious impediments to the work of the team due to attempts to manipulate the work process.
Any possible organizational difficulties (at senior management level) in implementing Scrum
The difficulty of an organization at the senior management level in implementing Scrum in production processes is directly related to the problems I have outlined above.
First is the poor understanding of Scrum practice, which leads to some concerns about its effectiveness, and from there, interference with the teamwork process. This has a negative effect and consequently leads to lower results, which in turn feeds the doubts of the management and results in a closed circle and complete impossibility of a positive result.
Another problem that arises from insufficient knowledge of the process is the problem of transparency. It is misunderstood by some leaders as a demonstration of weaknesses and mistakes in management.
All this can, of course, be avoided with the help of a good Scrum master who can master these processes from the very beginning, helping senior management to understand Scrum ideology well and to protect their team from being compromised.
From here it is quite natural to conclude that the smooth selection of the work depends on the good selection of the Scrum Master. With his knowledge of good Scrum practices and skills to monitor, solve problem situations, train his team, motivate, mobilize and organize him, he guarantees a successful cycle of continuous upgrading of the quality of work processes and increases the value of the product produced. Therefore, a great challenge for management is the right selection of such a specialist.
The second problem with Scrum and management
The second problem that may arise is the wrong selection of personnel involved in the Scrum team. By “wrong” we mean people with low motivation to work, self-expression, self-discipline, teamwork, and cultivation. People who do not understand and do not want to understand the principles and ideology of Scrum, and especially those who are constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills. As I have addressed in detail in the previous question, such people would only be an obstacle to the smooth and efficient functioning of the Scrum process.
Last but not least, purely technical problems may arise, not only with the recruitment or retraining of existing ones but also with the material base and other technical changes related to the new organization and way of work.
Many other problematic situations may occur in the process, but the above are the most important points that management should consider in the process of implementing Scrum in their organization.
Now read the article that inspired us to read about the other side of the coin named Why Organizations Should Use Scrum and Agile Methodologies and When They Don’t Use Scrum published on ScrumTime.org. It is really inspiring and motivational but we had to talk about reality and senior management.
Another interesting publication we strongly recommend is Scrum problems, causes of failure and mistakes published on Phron’s website. It again talks about the problems with Scrum and how teams and organizations usually fail if they do not implement and follow the Scrum principles correctly.
Thank you for your attention.