When and how can Scrum help you spread agility throughout the enterprise?

T3301Scrum has the potential to show that complex product development can be done incrementally and iterative. If specifications or requirements of the end result are not clearly defined upfront, you want to minimize the risk of ending with your development team somewhere far off the expected end result, there are a series of practices and principles built in the framework to help you along.

Control is not lost, but even enforced in Scrum, since it’s founded on 3 pillars of empirical process control:

  • transparency
  • inspection
  • adaptation

The product is developed in small increments in fixed time slots of 1-4 weeks. If an inspection by the product owner leads to the conclusion that the result is not viable, only that investment is lost. Continuing development means transparent intermediate results being reviewed every ‘sprint’ and adaption where needed to deliver an end product that meets the expectation.

Agility doesn’t mean that the business modifies its operating model, products, and services every day. It means that the organization has found a way to accommodate for changing requirements during complex product development, maintenance, and further improvements.

scrum-board-730x410Experimenting with Scrum in an organization can demonstrate its different way of working, energy level within the development team, active involvement of the product owner, and the tangible results of a continuous emphasis on improvements of both product and process. It leads to the surprised faces of managers who believed that product development had to take months or years, small start-ups not burdened with legacy would always win from the large enterprises.

So, single team efforts like Petri dishes in the larger organizational ecosystem can surely help spread the acknowledgment of internal capabilities, either latent or explicit, of becoming agiler. To enlarge the potential coach other teams to start using Scrum for applicable product development processes. Just as any other framework, Scrum is no silver bullet for all your organizational problems, neither it is bound to the IT department only. Apply where needed and adding value compared to existing processes. Agility is a mindset, requiring processes, behaviour, tools, and techniques. Scrum, as one agile framework for product development, can be helpful.

Spreading agility in your organization also needs actions and movement of minds, culture, behaviour, maybe some tools. But start with the why, then what, and only then the how.