We have loved the fascinating world of Scrum and Agile for a very long time already, and we love spreading this passion. But we have noticed a few persistent misconceptions about Scrum and Agile, restricting people’s openness to them. We want to nip these misconceptions in the bud so that more and more people can benefit from all those great things Scrum and Agile can offer!
Without further ado, we present the one and only “Scrum & Agile Misconception Series.”
This is the first episode of our Misconception Series: “Scrum is just a software development methodology”
Massive spoiler alert: it is not. Although it is very commonly used in software development, Scrum can actually be applied to any context where people work together to achieve a common goal!
But first things first, where is this misconception coming from? Why does the general public feel that Scrum can only be effectively used in software development?
Scrum indeed has its origins in the context of software development, but very quickly, this limitation evaporated. Because of its origins, however, some of the terminology used has an IT vibe to it (e.g., ‘developer’). IT has historically always been an early adopter of the Agile methods.
Basically, Agile and Scrum have enormously grown within IT, and consequently, there is a strong IT connotation. But that does not imply that Scrum can only be used in software development; on the contrary. We will show you some examples of Scrum in non-IT contexts, but first, let us shed light on the general origins of Scrum.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework to support and structure product development teams, and it is a framework in which teams can continuously improve their approach.
It is a tool to help teams make learning an intrinsic part of their day-to-day practice. A tool to help accept that uncertainty cannot be eliminated from everyday business and to learn how to deal with this uncertainty.
Where can Scrum be used?
The answer is very simple: anywhere if the right criteria are met. Scrum is perfect for any environment where different areas of expertise need to solve a non-trivial problem together.
In other words, the criteria for Scrum to be a big success are:
- Multiple people (Scrum-for-one isn’t a thing)
- Working together towards a real common goal
- The need to solve a complex problem
In a group of people where working together has no added value and where there is no common goal in sight, the benefits of Scrum will rather be small.
Scrum outside of IT: examples
We already mentioned that Scrum can bring considerable added value in other sectors and contexts than IT, and we want to show you 3 actual examples that will help us prove our point.
Scrum in hardware technology
Applying Scrum in the development process of hardware products requires a certain adaptability in speed but can definitely work. A big challenge in this context is the higher cost of change compared to software development. Scrum teams will find ways to moduarize and create more flexible tooling, decreasing the cost of change and increasing adaptability. This will allow for frequent feedback gathering, an integral part of Scrum, which can help stimulate learning and can allow for better decision-making in the middle and long term,
Scrum in healthcare
The healthcare sector can also benefit from the many advantages of Scrum, especially in the care of patients suffering from severe or complex conditions where a multidisciplinary approach is needed.
The common goal is to allow these patients to function again in society and to regain (part of) their daily routine.
In these cases, aligning the very different areas of expertise is often difficult. However, the many different medical disciplines need to be able to work together. Scrum can be a great tool to have a common and overall approach. The results are very positive, both in outcome and experience for both patients and healthcare workers.
It will enable cooperation between members with different expertise and allow them to see the links between those different areas to work on a common goal. There is no need for each member to know everything. There will be cross-pollination between the various medical disciplines to achieve the purpose of making the patient better.
Scrum in your family
An example that is less straightforward but that can have very positive effects on our daily lives is using Scrum in your everyday family life.
We often don’t reflect on or talk about the common goal as a family.
It can be greatly enriching to set up the discipline to have a kind of weekly meeting, let’s say a sort of retrospective, to discuss in your family:
- What have we done this week?
- How does that contribute to our common goal?
- Where do we want to go?
- What will we be doing in the coming week?
Scrum requires discipline and is all about learning to communicate. It can be a wonderful learning experience as a family and will give children tools to help them now and later in life.
Family Daily Scrum
Asking your family members questions in the morning that show your genuine interest is a form of daily scrum, a way to do a quick check-in. ‘What are your plans for the day?’, ‘How are you feeling today?’ and ‘How will we help each other to get the most out of our day?’.
Family Sprint Planning
Consciously sitting down together to discuss the weekly family planning and aligning all family members’ calendars is an excellent example of Scrum in your family. You could call it your family Sprint Planning. Taking the discipline to do this on a weekly basis will have many positive effects on your daily life and take away some unpleasant surprises (double bookings, forgotten appointments, …). As in most contexts, uncertainty is definitely part of family life, but this will allow for more peace of mind.
Family Sprint Review/Retrospective
An excellent example of the practice of Sprint review or retrospectives in a family context is what you can call “Our Moment to Compliment and Applaud.” A moment to come together as a family (e.g., during dinner preparations, washing up, during dinner, …) and give each other (nice) feedback. “What have you done this week of which you are proud?”, “Which struggles did you overcome this week and how?’, … Let your imagination run free and enjoy the positive enhancement!
Scrum in your family works because (usually) all family members easily, and even implicitly, commit to the very strong common goal of being a happy family.
Although public opinion often restricts the use of Scrum to an IT context, there is a clear evolution, and Scrum is breaking free from its IT shackles. We hope that more and more organizations will see the advantages of Scrum and will soon realize that it is an ideal tool for teams where members work together to achieve a common goal.
With this first episode of our Misconception Series, we hope that we have clarified that Scrum is not just a software methodology but a helpful tool that can be relevant in many different contexts.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode, where we will tackle yet another Agile misconception: ‘Agile means no planning or documentation.’
It’s promising to be yet another eye-opener, and you will want to binge-watch the whole series!