Scrum is a World View

by jkinter

Scrum is a World View by HaPe_Gera via Flickr

Guest post by Jim Kinter

I’ve been thinking about how to help a colleague get his arms around a Scrum implementation that seems to be out of control and rife with what my friend Ken Schwaber refers to as “ScrumButs”.

During our conversation, I cringed several times when reference was made to their “version” of Scrum as well as their version of “TDD”.


I think that this is a common trap that managers fall into when trying to adapt their organizational culture to become more “Agile”. The bottom line is that if you’re adopting Scrum because of business value motivators like profitability, product turn rates, cost control, or to compress/reduce feature release windows then I would tell you that your heart is in the wrong place and that you really need to re-assess what the value proposition is for implementing Agile software development methodologies/techniques. In my opinion, being successful at Scrum requires more of a change in personal and managerial philosophy than it does any type of technical or procedural change.

You see, I really struggle when I use the term “methodology” in the same sentence as Scrum because it’s not really a methodology…nor is it a technique….framework…technique…bleh. It’s all of those and none of them at the same time.

Scrum is a Philosophy

It’s a world-view relating to managerial interaction with those involved in production.

If you want to know how to succeed at implementing Scrum, I would recommend that you start with a read of Ken Blanchard’s book titled “The Servant Leader”. Once you have your heart in the right place, you’ve put aside the “command and control” mindset, and embraced the TPS/Lean concepts of empowering and enabling the team to make “management” decisions, and finally resolved to give them the power to make those decisions, now you’re really ready to tackle Scrum.

Now it’s time to take on the hard stuff like finding, training,and getting on the same page as the Product Owner(s) and really getting on down the Scrum road. Much like political or religious world-views, If you can’t put aside, or your organization isn’t structured to let you put aside these fundamental beliefs and opinions about people, roles, and responsibilities, you really need to abandon the idea of implementing Scrum/Lean/Agile until you can come to terms with what it means to lead people versus what it means to manage them.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh November 15, 2011 at 8:45 am

Thanks Jim, I liked this post. Per the Agile Manefesto, people over processes.

…”if you’re adopting Scrum because of business value motivators like profitability, product turn rates, cost control, or to compress/reduce feature release windows then I would tell you that your heart is in the wrong place”…

I would say these aren’t bad reasons for adopting it and I think you’d agree with me. I think what you are saying is that if these are the ONLY reasons you are adopting it and don’t want to change the mindset and culture it’s just not enough.

You need that culture to really make it work and deliver the results mentioned.




jkinter November 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

Hi Josh,
Yes, you are right. I need to clarify something…like @Joshua and @AgileScout point out below, I made a rookie mistake by proposing that Scrum is a worldview, when in truth Agile is a worldview, Scrum is one type of framework for managing projects and resources using the values deinfed in the Agile Manifesto. The point of the post is to make sure that folks are aware that there is a lot more to implementing Scrum than just grasping backlogs, velocity, and burndown. If someone is looking for the “how” to implement Scrum without looking at the “why”, the resulting cultural change can amount to a tidal wave of anger and frustration.

Now to answer your question, I guess my point is that quantitative business metrics like product turn rates and cost controls are obviously going to be valid motivations for making the decision to look for a different way of solving the business problem, but unless you embrace the philosophies of the Agile Manifesto and the cultural changes that will almost always come out of an Agile implementation, you’re going to encounter resistance in places and ways which you won’t expect.



Joshua Lewis November 16, 2011 at 4:28 am

Scrum is not a philosophy. Agile is a philosophy and a frame of mind, espoused by the Manifesto, the values and the principles. Scrum is a collection of practices and techniques, which form an implementation of ‘Agile’


jkinter November 21, 2011 at 9:43 am

Hey Joshua. You are exactly right. The Agile Manifesto clearly lays the framework for the worldview; however, a lot of folk overlook that and jump straight to the mechanics of “how can I do this” and forget that there is a tremendous amount of value to be gained by really understanding the nuances of the manifesto. You nailed it. My bad. Thanks for keeping me honest.


Agile Scout November 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Eh. Not sure if I agree here. Scrum is more of a framework. Agile is the philosophy:


jkinter November 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

Yep, you’re right. Cardinal error…transposing Scrum and Agile. Agile is a worldview. Scrum is a type of implementation of that worldview. My bad. Nice catch. I appreciate your feedback.


manoj kumar bardhan May 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thank you jkinter,

This is really good to know this all about Agile (scrum). Its really a new view to programming methodology.

Thanks again.


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