Has Scrum’s time come & gone?

  • Published
  • Updated
  • 4 mins read

Has Scrum’s time come & gone?

You are currently viewing Has Scrum’s time come & gone?

I think the answer is a resounding…


But let me explain a bit…

Let me share a multi-faceted definition of Scrum to focus on what I’m railing against. 

Scrum has been “around” since the mid to late 1990’s. So, for ~25 years. That’s an incredibly long time for a methodology (or framework) for software development (and other things) to exist.

Second, when I say, Scrum, it’s the Scrum that was created by Schwaber and Sutherland. The Scrum that’s defined in the Scrum Guide. That has been periodically updated by those two esteemed gentlemen.

Third, when I say Scrum, it’s the Scrum that has created/inspired a certification frenzy across:

  • Scrum Alliance

  • Scrum.org

  • Scaled Agile

  • PMI

  • SCRUMstudy

  • Scrum Institute 

  • Scrum Inc.

That has inspired literally hundreds of people to jump on the certification trainer bandwagon and doll out as many (typically 2-day class) certifications as possible. Why? Mostly because it’s such a lucrative way to make a living.

Fourth, when I say Scrum, I’m also referring to a host of trainers, coaches and consultants who talk about doing “Scrum” and talk about not doing “Scrum”. That is – having conversations around the framework as if it should be unchanging, unmodified, and leveraged (as defined in the Scrum Guide) in all cases.

With an implication that, if you’re not doing Scrum as-defined, you are somehow deficient in your understanding, intentions, mindset, and results.

Fifth, there’s this notion that’s emerging of Dark Scrum. Where Scrum in practice is driving poor or malevolent practices and not delivering on the promises of agility. While you can make an argument that Scrum isn’t creating these anti-patterns, you can also make the argument that it doesn’t prevent them as well.

This is going to sound odd, but I think it’s Scrum. But Scrum without all of the hoopla and baggage. For example –

  • It’s Scrum without the certifications (and the Agile Industrial Complex that’s been created to support them)

  • It’s Scrum without the levels, for example, advanced Scrum Master, Super Product Owner, and Ninja Scrum Master.

  • It’s Scrum without a mandatory application of all the practices. Allowing folks to experiment without judgment or guilt.

  • It’s Scrum PLUS, for example, Scrum plus Lean or Scrum plus Kanban.

  • It’s Scrum not being “embedded” as part of a large scaling framework.

  • It’s Scrum without a Scrum Alliance or a Scrum.org or a Scrum Inc.

  • It’s Scrum without an “owner”, that is, make it open source and let it evolve on its own.

  • It’s Scrum that is instantiated by getting situational, context-based coaching guidance. Not by certification or reading a book. That is, being guided by someone with a solid track record and real-world experience.

  • It’s Scrum with other interesting bits. For example, leveraging Spotify thinking, or Liberating Structures, Scrum of Scrums, BDD, and other techniques that work well with it.

  • It’s Scrum plus continuous learning, continuous experimentation, and focused on the results.

  • It’s Scrum with variations on a team-by-team and organization-by-organization basis…and that’s OK!

I believe that anything that is “agile” and that has been in existence for over 25 years is indicative of an oxymoron. That’s why I think we should all move on from Scrum. Not forget it. But consider it a successful agile experiment with learnings and then make “doing it, doing Scrum”, much less of a big deal.

Let your certifications expire. They were nice at the time, but now I think they’re probably more so getting in the way of things. Getting in the way of your mindset and your evolution.

Go to a class if you wish, but don’t be constrained by Scrum or the Scrum Guide. Look at it as a patterns language and borrow whatever makes sense from it.

The most important aspect of my HOPE is that we’ll remove the guilt & judgment around only doing partial Scrum. Or bending the rules. Or evolving it. Or doing something silly like, oh for example, a hardening sprint.

In other words, STOP doing Scrum and then start doing Scrum.

Stay agile my friends,


Leave a Reply