Scrum was publicly presented and described in the paper “Scrum Development Process” for the first time in 1995. Scrum is turning 22 years old.
It starts and ends with people.
Scrum can only last and prosper across the globe, and across industries, because of the fact that thousands and thousands of people, organized in teams, departments, organizations, employ Scrum to deal with complexity, to tackle difficult challenges, to create valuable products. Day in, day out (Depending on the source, 70-90% of all Agile teams worldwide say they use Scrum).
Regardless of region, organization, culture, or background, every individual has the intrinsic capability to self-organize and thrive by working in the context that Scrum creates. Through people, those benefits can be unlocked to wider ecosystems.
Are We Done With Scrum?
In my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” I present 2 major challenges, that will help define the future state of Scrum:
1. The Power of the Possible Product
From having implemented Scrum for the ‘how’ of product development, adding more focus now to ‘what’ needs to be built is crucial. That shift will help organizations discover the power of the possible product, reduce the amount of product built, instead of merely optimizing the way that the product is being developed. (Scrum – A Pocket Guide, November 2013)
2. Upstream Adoption
More than about process and techniques, moving from the old, industrial paradigm to the new Agile paradigm is about culture and behavior. The common bottom-up enthusiasm that arises from doing Scrum is unlikely to be sufficient for such a transformation. For a lasting effect, the common bottom-up enthusiasm needs to be supported and facilitated by upstream adoption. (Scrum – A Pocket Guide, November 2013)
Besides these ones, there are obviously many more challenges related to implementing and adopting Scrum, related to getting more benefits, a higher agility out of Scrum, a higher ability to adapt:
Let alone the secondary-order challenges that many organizations get themselves into with attempts to re-define, wrap, package, and rename Scrum, although the core engine they build upon is still… Scrum.
What if, moving forward, we focus on the essence, the core purpose of Scrum?
If Scrum was to be reduced to one purpose, and one purpose only, that is the creation of a Done Increment in a Sprint. (“Done is a crucial part of Scrum, actually“, May 2015)
Scrum is a tool that supports people, teams, departments, and organizations to gain agility; ‘agility’ being the ability to adapt, to change course, to explore uncharted paths. Agility is not achieved within an organization. It is validated through external impact.
Hence, the purpose of Scrum is to create a Done Increment of the product, no later than by the end of a Sprint, where a Sprint takes 4 weeks and no longer (and often shorter).
An Increment in Scrum is not really Done if it can’t potentially increase such impact. An Increment is not Done if it’s not releasable. An Increment in Scrum can be Done before a Sprint expires, but no later.
How Done Are You?
Over the past year, I started actively inquiring on how many people using Scrum create Done Increments, with “Done” reflecting a state of actually being ‘releasable.’ From all people and teams said to be using Scrum, at most, 10% indicate their Increments are in a releasable state. And even then the biggest struggle is to maintain this high state of quality Sprint after Sprint after Sprint. I recently heard Jeff Sutherland say his experience says it is certainly no more than 20%.
The crucial questions for every Scrum practitioner are:
- Do you have a definition of Done?
- Does your definition of Done reflect releasable?
- Do you create actually releasable Increments of product?
- Every Sprint?
Then ask yourself, “What is stopping me?” and take action. Involve your Scrum Master in removing the impediments that are preventing you from creating releasable increments of a product. Expect your management to be involved as well.
The Future Present
It is obvious that we are not done yet with Scrum. We’re not sufficiently employing Scrum to the level that every Sprint, or sooner, we have a Done, releasable increment of a product. This, however, is the foundation of agility, of empiricism, and the ultimate sense of fulfillment.
The future present of Scrum is the creation of Done Increments. It is an ambition that will get us a long way, if not another 2 decades.
Scrum begins with Done.
Let the next 20 years be about enacting Scrum.