Monday, November 12, 2012
Reflections in Scrum's Silver Mirror
Since its infancy, software development has been a fast-paced world. As technologies grow, new markets open, and competitors innovate, companies look for new inroads to tackle project management. The Agile methodology, which has witnessed a broad adoption, has introduced various methods to help manage software development projects. Scrum is a popular incarnation of the Agile principles. Its process controls, iterative cycles, and incremental approach makes Scrum very attractive for companies that have difficulty planning ahead. Many businesses have implemented Scrum with high hopes of efficiency and reliability, but the methodology is quick to point out that "Scrum is NOT a silver bullet; Scrum is a silver mirror."
That uncommon phrase becomes all to familiar after implementing Scrum and is vital to successful implementation. The foundation of Scrum does not solve problems; it helps identify potential obstacles. This is accomplished through the silver mirror. The mirror comparison is the perfect adage for Agile because mirrors don't lie. They can't. A mirror only reflects the reality of a situation. Its honesty and truth are undeniable. It reflects all decisions, good and bad.
The feedback loop available in Scrum allows for excellent retrospection. During that time, the silver mirror is front and center. The information gleaned from this constant evaluation is where Agile lives or dies. It helps identify what is working and what is not. Areas of concern are voiced and clarified. Unfortunately, after looking in the mirror, some do not like what they see. Instead of an objective approach they point fingers, expressing anger or frustration towards the team, members, or even the mirror itself. This is regrettable. Also, replacing the mirror does not change the reflection. Most underestimate the number of blemishes the mirror exposes. This is when the temptation to abandon or ignore Agile can be at its highest.
Continuous problems encourage some to be afraid of the mirror. Don't be. The mirror helps identify possible areas of concern/consideration. There is no requirement to take immediate action; furthermore, like any real mirror, the closer one looks, the more clarity it provides. It's also important to remember the human element to any team recommended solution. Sometimes trial and error is required to achieve the desired result. Regardless of the outcome, the mirror is always available to help guide the way. It is a powerful tool in Scrum. Respect it, champion it, and the results will be palpable.