One of the common complaints that I have heard “agile is for everyone, but Scrum is for technical people.” Is it true? I have listened to some interesting conversations around it. A few of them are here: –

  • We decided to start with design thinking to move towards agility as a first step. Later, software people will use Scrum, and the rest will go with agile. 
  • We are planning to have an agile awareness session before we teach Scrum to our people.
  • We think Scrum is suitable for IT people but thinking about having an Agile Bootcamp for the rest of the employees.
  • We are thinking of organizing lean training this year. We have a plan to adopt a lean-agile mindset.
  • We are thinking of getting a few people to train on Lean Six Sigma first.
  • And many more.

Agile Discussion

Agile is fine, but you need to start from somewhere to be agile. You can start with Scrum, Lean, XP, Design Thinking, Lean UX or LeSS, etc. but make a start. You can then inspect and adapt your processes. Add stuff if needed or remove something if it doesn’t work. I am not saying to have a dogmatic approach, but you need something to start with, even to be pragmatic.

Is Scrum seriously for technical people?

That’s not true, and all business people should go through Scrum training if they wanted their software teams to start practicing Scrum. The majority says that the business doesn’t understand how Scrum operates but wanted the team to practice it. When teams start practicing, then they are the one who becomes the biggest impediments.
Scrum framework is the most popular agile approach, and success lies in collaboration between business and product development teams. How can you collaborate if you don’t know each other expectations within Scrum? One of the critical roles in Scrum is Product Owner. The Product Owner is either the business person or representative of the customer/business, so isn’t it essential for the business people to know about Scrum?

Is Scrum limited to Software development?

One of the common complaints that I have heard “agile is for everyone, but Scrum is for technical people.” Is it true? I have listened to some interesting conversations around it. A few of them are here: –

  • We decided to start with design thinking to move towards agility as a first step. Later, software people will use Scrum, and the rest will go with agile. 
  • We are planning to have an agile awareness session before we teach Scrum to our people.
  • We think Scrum is suitable for IT people but thinking about having an Agile Bootcamp for the rest of the employees.
  • We are thinking of organizing lean training this year. We have a plan to adopt a lean-agile mindset.
  • We are thinking of getting a few people to train on Lean Six Sigma first.
  • And many more.

Agile is fine, but you need to start from somewhere to be agile. You can start with Scrum, Lean, XP, Design Thinking, Lean UX or LeSS, etc. but make a start. You can then inspect and adapt your processes. Add stuff if needed or remove something if it doesn’t work. I am not saying to have a dogmatic approach, but you need something to start with, even to be pragmatic.

Is Scrum seriously for technical people?

That’s not true, and all business people should go through Scrum training if they wanted their software teams to start practicing Scrum. The majority says that the business doesn’t understand how Scrum operates but wanted the team to practice it. When teams start practicing, then they are the one who becomes the biggest impediments. 

Scrum framework is the most popular agile approach, and success lies in collaboration between business and product development teams. How can you collaborate if you don’t know each other expectations within Scrum? One of the critical roles in Scrum is Product Owner. The Product Owner is either the business person or representative of the customer/business, so isn’t it essential for the business people to know about Scrum?

Is Scrum limited to Software development?

Scrum indeed started from Software Development, but it is getting adopted in many areas. You can read plenty of examples over the web, but I can share some of my knowledge. I have seen/heard about below:

  • Producing fruit juices
  • Design footwear
  • Build insurance and takaful product
  • Run a marketing campaign
  • Design sales processes
  • Develop LED lighting

Some initiatives have been a wonderful experience for me to be associated with it. Employees benefit organizations exploring Scrum to improve engagement with employees from unorganized sectors like taxi drivers. I got the opportunity to teach Scrum in the most prominent non-profit organization in the world. Delivered training in many consulting service firms and helped them understand how Scrum can help design and improve processes. I worked with the team from a popular dairy industry in Malaysia to design and launch a go-to-market strategy for a new dairy product. The most challenging was to work with teams to design and produce semiconductor components for AR/VR systems. 

In recent times, engineering firms are exploring how Scrum can help them. I had many learners attending my Professional Scrum Master training in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and India. 

Again, I am not saying Scrum is the only way to agile, but Scrum is the most popular and is not just for technical teams. Scrum is a process framework to design, develop, and deliver complex adaptive products, and products can be anything like creating a new product for adult education. I use Scrum to teach Scrum in all my agile and Scrum training.

What do you learn in the name of Agile Bootcamp or Agile fundamentals?

Agile Boot Camp Awareness

One day Agile Fundamentals Program is focused on four agile values. We teach the importance of a self-organized team, empirical process, and customer-centric product, but isn’t it the same message conveyed in Scrum? There is no harm to having one-day training on agility and agile working, but it usually focuses on cultural and mindset related stuff. It doesn’t talk about how to initiate an agility journey.

Agile boot camp/ agile fundamentals usually a two days workshop. Mostly, we talk about Scrum, Lean Product Development, or Lean Kanban as the path for agility, but again I have seen most people teach Scrum there and the same stuff like Product Owner, Product Backlog, and Self-Organized team. Why not have a workshop on Scrum itself from a qualified and experienced trainer to have a deeper understanding that should help in adopting these after going back to the office? Why learn crappy Scrum on the name of Agile Fundamentals or Bootcamp and end up unlearning what you have learned and then relearn? These workshops make sense when you look for alternatives frameworks, approaches, and methods but does that happen this way?

Why we have a poor understanding of the Scrum framework, and who is responsible for all these?

First, I would like to blame the trainer’s process where trainers get selected based on the lowest quote. Two large organizations in Malaysia decided to go with the cheapest trainer, burnt money, and reinvested. But next time, they put quality as criteria in the selection process by adding trainers to either a Professional Scrum Trainer or Certified Scrum Trainer. It doesn’t mean that professionals not having these titles are not good, but it becomes difficult to filter. 

Second, part-time trainer and low quality of content are equally responsible for this. Many trainers end up sharing the same content and examples without understanding the context and background of participants. Trainers might not have worked in all the functions, but at least he/she can prepare himself/herself to give a better experience in class. Most training content and examples are software development centric and very few examples available around other projects such as designing marketing campaigns, incremental hardware design, and engaging HR policies. 

Third, training companies themselves. They don’t invest in their marketing and sales staff to train them. If they are knowledgeable, they can bring awareness that Scrum is not only limited to software development.

What are we doing about it?

Doing About Learning and Development

We are ready to organize 1-3 hours of free workshops for human capital, learning & development, and senior manager at no cost, so please contact us if you have need.
We are also available to arrange 1-2 hours online session for your team if they like to understand all these or have questions.
Again, Scrum is not the only way to be agile but the most popular way to be agile. If you would like to learn alternative or supporting practices like XP, Lean, and LeSS, please feel free to write us.

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Author's Bio

Naveen is a Lean-Agile Coach, Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) and Internationally acclaimed Speaker in many Conferences and Agile events. He has over 22 years of experience in multiple domains and he is a Certified LeSS Practitioner (Large-Scale Scrum) and one of the early adopters of DevOps practices and teaches DevOps culture around the Globe.