According to Schwaber, the Old Guard commented on the invention of Scrum by saying it was great if, and only if, the team
- Was staffed with outstanding engineers
- Had excellent tools available to them
- Had engineering practices down pat
- Understood the business and technical domain inside and out
- Were not interrupted
- Had all the resources they needed
If this was the case you could use Scrum successfully.
Schwaber fires back by saying if your team is
- Staffed with idiots
- Who didn’t go to school
- Don’t understand computer science
- Don’t understand software engineering techniques
- Hate each other
- Don’t understand the business domain
- Have lousy tools
They will produce crap every sprint, but Scrum will make this visible and you can make intelligent choices of how to proceed given this result.
Once again we find extremes of argument. You are either a dragon or an earthworm*.
Your team is probably some mixture
- You basically like most of the people you work with
- Tools are OK
- Someone understands the domain
- You have some software engineering and computer science talent on the team
- Other groups mostly try to respect your time
All of these lists forget all of the things a development team is required to do. Maybe this is where things break down.
- You have to respond to customer escalations
- Collaborate with other teams on questions of joint interest
- Deal with people leaving the team
- Deal with people joining the team
- Deal with people going on vacation, getting sick, phoning it in while they deal with problems at home, etc.
- You live with so many elephants in the room, you wonder why you don’t open a safari park as a side business.
It seems like the named methodologies are a machine with fine tolerances – one that flies apart when a piece of grit makes its way into the works. It is maintained by highly trained technicians with delicate equipment. It’s bad enough that if you aren’t able to make one of these work, you are labeled a “dysfunctional team”.
We need a methodology that works for my approximation of a “real team” that you can tune with a screwdriver and a hammer.
This isn’t to say we need crude tools, more that most teams have coarse problems to solve and a lot of the finer process improvements are premature.
We need methodologies that conform to the working styles of the specific individuals who practice them.
*Stop reading this essay and go read Han Feizi “A Critique of the Doctrine of the Power of Position” instead.