The Moat of Scrumbut

Whenever there’s talk about agile software development, someone will tell you about how their team was burned by agile methods, and someone will counter that the team just didn’t do agile right.

Agile proponents promise sky-rocketing productivity, but if you do just a small mistake, you end up doing worse than by just doing whatever you were doing before. Here’s how it looks to me:

Scrumbut is where you almost use Scrum: “We use Scrum, but…”

What’s up with the moat of scrumbut? Is agile really this fragile?

You don’t want to use a fragile development method. There will be situations where you can’t fully follow the process. Even things like vacation season can cause problems with following the rules to the letter. This should be a small speed bump, not a catastrophe.

So, what’s up? I don’t know - I do not have enough experience to say. I suspect that some of this is caused by what Martin Fowler calls Flaccid Scrum. In Flaccid Scrum, you pick up the agile management practices, but none of the agile technical practices. Scrum does not mandate any specific technical practices, after all. Neglecting the technical process will get you in trouble.

If everybody does the same big mistake, that does not yet make the method fragile. It does suggest that there are problems in how the method is taught, though.

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