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Being a software developer who interviewed with a lot of companies and switched jobs a couple of times, I noticed a lot of companies tend to claim they're using Scrum (e.g. during the interview process), when in fact they aren't.

Usually they'll use some terms from the Scrum Guide and follow some practices, but will also make a lot of exceptions. I assume that this results in lower job satisfaction and higher turn-over (as a lot of software developers enjoy proper Scrum and get frustrated when things doesn't work as expected).

So why would it make sense to advertise a Scrum approach one doesn't follow?

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    Like Barbie says, "Scrum, is hard!". English is formative, not normative; many of them probably believe they are following scrum. Why not claim to be following the trend and doing what all the cool kids are doing? What is the disincentive for falsely claiming scrum? – Mark C. Wallace Feb 19 at 15:29
  • @What is the disincentive for falsely claiming scrum? Turnover in IT is quite high, and people often leave because they were misinformed during the interview about tools or processes company use/follows – pstrag Feb 19 at 15:37
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    Turnover is the fault of the employees - there is no way that the recruiting manager can be blamed for that! (Any attempt to blame the recruiting manager is likely to result in immediate turnover). </snark> – Mark C. Wallace Feb 19 at 15:41
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For most teams it's because they don't know any better. Many Scrum implementations start with someone reading the Scrum Guide and begin to follow what's written in there. Mechanistically. It's a process to follow, it's a list of checkboxes to tick. So they follow the process and they tick the boxes thinking they are actually doing Scrum.

Often, the prescribed ways of learning Scrum is through approaches such as Shu Ha Ri which unfortunately start with "obeying the rules". You focus on the tasks (in this case Scrum events and artifacts) without caring too much about the "why". You do so until you eventually "get it", and then you move to the next step and the next. Unfortunately many teams remain stuck in the fist step (the Shu) and keep doing something that they think is the right thing to do.

Because the "why" is lacking, whenever their Scrum implementation meets a roadbump (e.g. traditional project managers, executives, company policies, procedures and regulations, etc), since they don't understand what Scrum is all about, they start to bend its definition. And you end up with ScrumBut.

The thing with approaches such as Shu Ha Ri is that you need to "follow the teachings of one master precisely". This means an expert of some sort that you learn from: a true Scrum Master. And many teams don't have a true Scrum Master, it's just someone inexperienced who fills the role of Scrum Master because you need to tick that box, right? So many teams start by themselves with learning approaches like Shu Ha Ri, so of course they mess it up.

Everyone who does ScrumBut actually thinks they are doing Scrum but (no pun intended) they are not.

There are a lot of other reasons of course but from my personal experience this is the main reason. They use the word Scrum and they think they are doing Scrum, because they don't know any other Scrum implementations than the one they are doing, to compare it to, and see that it's actually ScrumBut.

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There could be several reasons, but I'd posit the most likely would be:

  1. It's a trap.
    • Scrum is attractive to job-seekers, so they claim they're doing it to get more/better applications.
  2. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.
    • The HR people take a glance at the development people, see a few 'Scrum-like' things, and, not truly understanding, go 'oh, I guess we're using Scrum, I'll add that to the posting'.
  3. They've modified Scrum to fit their purposes.
    • The modifications they've made actually make sense for their business. What they're doing may technically not be Scrum anymore, but for their purposes that's a meaningless distinction.
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  • It's off-topic and ethical question I guess, but isn't 3.) always also 1.)? I mean it's ok if Scrum doesn't make sense for you business and you should feel free to use whatever works, but if you still claim you're using Scrum you're making a trap for candidates – pstrag Feb 19 at 15:44
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    @pstrag The difference is intent. There's a difference between 'let's lie to people so we get more apps' and 'we understand Scrum enough to modify it. Explaining that fully in the app would be silly, so let's just say we use Scrum for simplicity's sake'. – Sarov Feb 19 at 15:50

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