This is the Way Scrum Ends

September 30, 2014

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This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

– T.S. Eliot

Did you ever wonder if this is the future of Scrum? Will it eventually go out with a whimper? I think a lot of people fear this fate for everyone’s favorite framework. Go to a conference or follow your favorite luminary on Twitter and you hear a chorus of “That’s Scrumbut!”, “It’s FrAgile”, or “Welcome to Scrummerfall!” And maybe that’s the way it has to be. Perhaps all great new ideas eventually become diluted in a sea of mediocrity.

I think I hear a longing in some to fight such dissolution. To resist the forces of corporate entropy. Rather than try to fit in, they urge us to confront and overturn the system. You know, subvert the dominant paradigm? Confronting this dissonance is the difference between making a living and actually living.

I wonder if that’s the difference between those who “fire” their customers and those who stay and work within the system. Are those consultants who give up and declare, “These clowns aren’t ready for Scrum.” going out with a bang? And what about those who stay? Are they afraid to make the big moves and just content to fit in? Whimper. Or are they more subtle than that? Can you embrace your client and still change them? Perhaps the “bang” approach is quicker, and more decisive. And maybe, just maybe, remaining engaged is very, very hard, but yields results in the end.

I know, I know…why so bleak? Well, I feel this tension a lot in our weird little community. I’ve been on both sides of the engagements where a respected consultant has tossed their hands in the air and walked away from the engagement because “They just don’t get it.” or “They’re not ready yet.” And I’ve been that poor fool, laboring away within the system, living on a meager diet of optimism and the occasional conference, trying to make change happen. I won’t pretend to¬†know which approach is right, or even when to use these strategies, but I think it would be worthwhile to understand this issue better.

In vs. Out

May 5, 2011

From time to time I’ve debated the differences between being an external coach/consultant and being an internal coach for an organization over a beer with friends. The way I see it, the outsider has the following advantages:

  1. Surprise: nobody knows you. They don’t see you coming.
  2. No organizational baggage.
  3. Outsiders are perceived as “experts” – after all we pay them more than employees…
  4. Outsiders typically have broader experience across different domains.
  5. Outsiders can and usually will leave.
Not a bad set of advantages to walk into an organization with. Now lets look at the strengths at the internal coach:
  1. Everybody knows the internal coach
  2. The internal coach knows the domain, the terminology, etc.
  3. The internal coach lives with the consequences of their advice
  4. The internal coach knows the players
  5. The internal coach won’t leave.
I’m coming to appreciate the fact that both kinds of coach/consultant can be incredibly valuable to an organization. Often I think organizations benefit from both. An outside consultant can bring a fresh perspective and bring insights that have surprising impact. This can really help to introduce needed change to an organization. An internal coach can serve to support the lasting change that organizations need in order to sustain and improve the work introduced by outside consultants. Together they provide critical support to organizations that are serious about improvement.