The Agile Tribe

Agile – Beyond Scrum!

on April 27, 2010

Author: Stephen Lawrence, CSM, CSP, PMP, Agile PM Masterclass

As a practising and Certified Scrum Practitioner and ScrumMaster I see tremendous value in the tools and techniques Scrum has given the project world. I also acknowledge that there are more tools and techniques outside of Scrum which can further enhance the value delivered to stakeholders and improve the chances of a successful project.

One example is the use of a concept phase & planning workshops to capture the following essential data is just one example of techniques and tools not taught in Scrum – but vital to understanding your stakeholders needs.

  • Objectives and outcomes a project is to deliver and what changes are necessary to achieve this.
  • What are the trade-off criteria the sponsor and key stakeholders are prepared to move on to ensure a successful delivery?
  • What are the key business benefits the business wishes to achieve?
  • What are the high level features prioritised that will deliver the outcomes – think People process and technology to ensure the objectives and outcomes are achieved – not just a technical solution.

These are all essential Agile tools outside the Scrum toolkit but add significant value to an Agile project. (Thanks Rob Thomsett for these wonderful tools. I highly recommend reading Rob’s “Radical Project Management” for more great ideas and concepts). Another way to add to your toolkit would also be to go to an Agile Academy course to learn how to use these and other tools.

Nor am I a member of the Scrum fraternity advocating the demise of Project Managers. In fact, I am passionately the opposite; I fully endorse the need for PMs but they need to adapt to an Agile world.
Command and control is dead – facilitation and leadership skills are now to the fore!

So the big question is:

How do you empower teams while ensuring accountability, responsibility, openness and transparency?

Unfortunately not all PMs or indeed managers can make this change, nor can all people in a team self-manage. It is an interesting dilemma and one most teams will face at some time. However, to be successful it is important that this issue is acknowledged and addressed. SUCCESSFUL AGILE IS A WHOLE OF TEAM APPROACH – NOT INDIVIDUALS.

Other frameworks such as Feature Driven Development (FDD), eXtreme Programming (XP), Dynamic Systems Development Model (DSDM)(Atern), Crystal, Lean etc. can also add real value to an Agile world. Agile is a framework underpinned by values, processes with a number of tools and techniques that can be used and adapted to best fit.

Feel free to pick and choose not be constrained by dogma. Your stakeholders and sponsor are your customers and you need to ensure you deliver a solution that meets their expectations and achieves the project’s objectives and outcomes.

Scrum is an excellent place to start but don’t let your journey end there.

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3 responses to “Agile – Beyond Scrum!

  1. Peter says:

    Thanks for this interesting blog Stephen. I think you might find though that people like Tobias Mayer (http://agilethinking.net/) don’t really agree with you that Scrum is a mix of tools and techniques. In a recent tweet he described Scrum as a values-based framework; … not a methodology, not a process, not a tool.

    On the other hand, the Scrum Alliance of which Tobias is a member describes Scrum as one of the leading agile development methodologies, used by Fortune 500 companies so I guess there is a bit of confusion around what it is really is.

    Like Agile itself Scrum seems to be different things to different people.

  2. Steve Lawrence says:

    Thanks Peter- and you are quite correct and I love the fact you say Scrum is a framework – not a methodology.
    Tobias is also correct Scrum is a development practice – this blog is to identify the need to take organisations past just the development focus and incorporate other facets of Agile, thus enabling scrum and other practices to deliver even more value.
    I have seen a number of organisations running Scrum teams and also Agile PM teams and never the twain shall meet- consequently their Agile journey is not as successful as it could be. A ‘them ‘ and ‘us’ wall is built which is contrary to what Agile is about. Don’t get me wrong – I am a Scrum advocate but will not be constrained by a belief that this is the only tool in my kitbag to deliver value to my customers

  3. Emily says:

    Thanks Peter- and you are quite correct and I love the fact you say Scrum is a framework – not a methodology.
    Tobias is also correct Scrum is a development practice – this blog is to identify the need to take organisations past just the development focus and incorporate other facets of Agile, thus enabling scrum and other practices to deliver even more value.
    I have seen a number of organisations running Scrum teams and also Agile PM teams and never the twain shall meet- consequently their Agile journey is not as successful as it could be. A ‘them ‘ and ‘us’ wall is built which is contrary to what Agile is about. Don’t get me wrong – I am a Scrum advocate but will not be constrained by a belief that this is the only tool in my kitbag to deliver value to my customers

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