As the regular reader of this blog (Welcome back!)  already knows I am involved in my first Scrum project and I also see various projects doing Scrum all around me. And this is great.

But in a couple of discussions lately a question popped up: Do we really do Scrum? Or do we only Scumbut and if so, is it a bad thing?

Well I guess if we are really doing Scrum is in the eye of the beholder. The is no test for 'scrumminess' except maybe an examination by Ken Schwaber. We try as hard as we can. We have problems, but we try to solve them, although progress is sometimes slow. And that is exactly the point where I think the label Scrumbut is just to simple.

We should distinguish at least two types of Scrumbut:

The Waterfall with lipstick Scrumbut: you have basically a waterfall process, but you are doing daily status meetings called scrums. Your project manager is called Master. If you do this kind of Scrum. Call it waterfall, as it is waterfall.

But there is also the We-aren't-there-yet Scrumbut:

The product backlog is messy, but you realize it and are working on improving on it. Not everybody understands the meaning of the Definition of Done, but you realized it and you are working on it. This is not Scrum according to the book. But you are moving towards it.

So here is the point: At the heart of Scrum is improvement. Constant improvement. All the practices of Scrum rotate around making problems obvious so you can fix them; Establishing an environment where you can talk about problems so you can find ways to improve. If you are on a way to such an environment, thats awesome. Go on with your Scrumbut, it will turn into Scrum over time. Scrum is hard. It requires a lot of change. It won't work on the first day of the first attempt.

But if you reduce Scrum to a version where it doesn't make you change, you are missing the important part. This kind of Scrumbut won't show you your problems, it just puts new names on things. This is Scrumbut in it's worst form.

Actually you can and should apply the same differentiation to Scrum by the book: With some projects I get the impression they are adhering pretty much to the rituals of Scrum. But nothing happens. The reviews happen after every Sprint, but no change happens. At one time someone from such a project even said to me: "We don't have anything to improve." Sorry, but I don't buy that. Just as every non trivial program contains a bug and a superfluous line, every team has room for improvement. If you don't see it, you are not looking hard enough.

There is no point in doing Scrum without changing. You don't gain anything from doing Scrum, except making challenges in the team and in the project obvious. If you still don't see them, or if you don't react on them you gained nothing.

Doing Scrum is only the start of a long way of improvement. Get going.


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