Are You Truly Agile?

Agile Begins with An Agile Mindset

Since April Shepherd and I founded GSD Mindset and started blogging three months ago we have received an outpouring of support from the agile professional community. We have also received several comments that imply the GSD Method described in our GSD Scrum Handbook   is not Scrum. This led me to review my understanding of scrum on the Scrum Alliance website. Both April and I have our CSM certification, so that is where I went to seek answers.

The Scrum Alliance website has their own Scrum Guide posted online. Since I have shared the link, I won’t go into all the details of their framework. However, I will share that the definition of Scrum is quite general: “Scrum (n): A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.” At the end of the definition, they add: “Specific tactics for using the Scrum framework vary.”

The Scrum Alliance states Scrum Theory is based on 3 pillars of the empirical process of control theory: Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation. As part of Adaptation, the theory states that if the process results in a product that will be unacceptable, an adjustment must be made as soon as possible.

Scrum prescribes 4 formal events for inspection and adaptation:

  1. Sprint Planning
  2. Daily Scrum (Standup)
  3. Sprint Review (Demos)
  4. Sprint Retrospective

The GSD Method is based on Scrum Theory and the 4 formal events as defined by the Scrum Alliance, our governing body for our CSM certification. We would be disrespectful to call it anything else other than a form of Scrum.

Every day we see articles written stating that agile is dead. We do not believe that statement, even for a split second. What we do believe is that many agile experts and Scrum Masters are not really as agile as they believe themselves to be. They seem to have forgotten that the Scrum Team chooses how best to accomplish their work. The Scrum Master is not the only person on the team to dictate process. “The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity.”

Every time I coach a Scrum Team or act as Scrum Master for a Scrum Team, the Scrum practice is different.  Sometimes, I even allow the team to choose process improvements that I know are not improvements at all. (Refer to my blog post: The Retrospective – Not All Continuous Improvement. As a result, my teams truly feel empowered and outperform their peer teams every time.

Does that mean my teams don’t always practice the GSD Method as described in my own handbook? Yes, it does. The process described in the GSD Scrum Handbook is an adaptation of Scrum based on our combined 30 years as both Scrum Masters and Project Managers. We recognize that Scrum Teams may exist in a waterfall world and we want Scrum to succeed and flourish in any environment.

If you are an agile expert or a Scrum Master and you do not allow your teams to decide the best way for them to work together and build quality products, you are not agile.

As Scrum professionals, not only do we need to know Scrum, we have the responsibility to properly coach our teams on Scrum principles and methods. The agile part comes to play because we also need to be flexible enough to let our teams adapt the ways they want to work together. Hopefully, you have taught them well and they make smart choices.   

Agility begins with an agile mindset.

An agile mindset understands that there is no single right way to practice Scrum.

Go forth and support each other.

Long live Scrum,

Cynthia Kahn

Cynthia Kahn

Cynthia Kahn
CynthiaK@gsd.guru  503.799.5500

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