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Proper Scrum implementation requires three things:

  1. an experienced Scrum Master,
  2. a mature team, and
  3. management who give the Scrum Team some breathing space.

In most organizations there is one or two of these present but rarely all three together.

  • Having just an experienced Scrum Master is great, but the rest of the Scrum Team won’t have the mastery to complete Scrum processes such as estimates effectively.
  • Having a mature team is fine, but without the guiding and challenging hand of the Scrum Master they can’t produce increments as effectively.
  • Having good management is fine, but they need direction and guidance from the Scrum Master to really understand the agile process.

Interested to hear your thoughts on what proper scrum implementation requires

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    "Why" is often a tough question. Can you add which part you're having trouble with, and what sort of time frame you're expecting a new process to reach the norming part of "forming, storming, and norming?"
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 19:09

3 Answers 3

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One of the biggest challenges in a successful Scrum approach is that it requires organisation level change to happen.

Scrum does not impact just the team that implements it. It is an agile framework and it requires the organisation as a whole to value the agile approach.

As an example, the Product Owner working in the Scrum team has to be genuinely empowered. For a lot of organisations this requires a change in their approach as they tend to separate the delivery of software from other parts of the business.

There may also be cultural changes needed. Scrum and agile need a culture that supports collaboration and the empowering of teams. Again, this is not something that a lot of organisations are used to.

Finally, for a lot of organisations working to a plan is accepted practice. The shift to adapting to change is not something that comes easily.

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I wouldn't say those things are essential (and what does "breathing space" really mean anyway?). What is important is the consent of the stakeholder(s) / customer(s) to collaborate in making it work. The same can be said whatever framework or approach a team takes. In the case of Scrum, stakeholders have to be willing to work with iterative/incremental delivery based on a prioritised backlog. They also have to recognise and support the Product Owner (much more essential to success than the SM). Given those conditions, the team can learn from their experiences as they deliver work.

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  • why do you say that supporting a PO is more important than support for the SM Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 19:03
  • @WaseemChauhan Success is measured by the value of work delivered and the PO, not the SM, is responsible for maximising that value. The PO decides what is done and when. The PO is the key customer-facing role, representing the customers' interests and being accountable to them. With a good PO in place, the SM role becomes essentially one of support and troubleshooting but without an adequate PO outcomes are uncertain and customer satisfaction hard to achieve.
    – nvogel
    Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 16:16
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In most organisations the development teams are battling against hard requirement, whether generated by internal stakeholders or actual customers.

Because of this, most organisations will struggle with the "build the most valuable thing next" style approach to delivery. The reasons are varied and include waterfall style project initiation, rigid requirements, lack of customer contact, inflexibility in the sales team and budget planning.

Moreover, if the team promises to build the most valuable thing next, who decides what is valuable and how do they know how valuable it is ?

In my experience these questions are rarely adequately answered and this leads to resistance from the top and a conflict of opinions from internal stakeholders. Unfortunately Scrum doesn't really deal with customer research and value tracking.

Here we need to be more wholistic and consider what processes are in place to ensure you are building the right thing considering actual customer needs, the organisational strategy, available skills and ROI.

So the problem is often not with implementation of scrum but with the processes that decide the right thing to build.

In short, implementing scrum is often not the real issue. The real issue is figuring out how it fits into value delivery in your organisation.

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