One of the common complain that I have heard “agile is for everyone but Scrum is for technical people.” Is it true?

Where I heard all these?

Today, while taking to one of the learning and development manager of a leading bank in Malaysia.
Two days ago, while talking to Human Resource Manager from a leading telecom company in Malaysia.
Monday during lunch with one the training incharge from 2nd biggest telecom company in Malaysia.

So basically I hear this almost every week if not every day.

What else do I hear from them?

  • We decided to start with design thinking to move towards agility as a first step.
  • We are planning to have agile awareness session before we teach scrum to our people.
  • We think, Scrum is good for IT people but thinking about having agile boot camp for rest .
  • We are thinking of organising lean training as this year we have plan to move on lean agile mindset.
  • We are thinking of getting few people 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 the start. You can then inspect and adapt your processes.  Add stuff if needed or remove something if doesn’t work. I am not saying to have dogmatic approach but even to be pragmatic you need something to start with.

Is Scrum seriously for technical people?

Definitely not, That’s not true and all business people should go through Scrum training. Scrum framework is most popular agile approach and success lies in collaboration between business and product development team. How can you collaborate if you don’t know what’s needed from business within scrum? One of the key role in scrum is Product Owner and Product Owner is either business person or representative of customer/business so isn’t it important for business to know about scrum?

Is Scrum limited to Software development?

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

  • Scrum to develop agriculture product like juices
  • Scrum to design footwear
  • Scrum to develop insurance and takaful product
  • Scrum to design marketing campaign
  • Scrum to improve sales processes
  • Scrum to develop LED lighting
  • Employees benefit organizations are exploring scrum to improve engagement
  • Got opportunity to teach scrum in biggest non-profit organization in world
  • Delivered training in almost all consulting service firms and helped them to understand how scrum can help in design and improving processes
  • Engineering firms are exploring to see how scrum can help them and I had many learners attending my Professional Scrum Master training in Indonesia, Malaysia and India
  • Even people from Toyota is attending Scrum training and I think this is really interesting

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

What do you learn on the name of Agile bootcamp or Agile fundamentals?

Agile Boot Camp Awareness

One day Agile Fundamentals Program is focused around four agile values and we do teach importance of self-organised team, empirical process and customer-centric product but isn’t it the same message that gets conveyed in scrum too? There is no harm to have one-day training on agility and agile way of working but usually it is focused on cultural and mindset related stuff and doesn’t really talk about how to initiate agility journey.

Agile boot camp/ agile fundamentals usually a 2 days workshop and mostly we give option to select Scrum, Lean Product Development or Lean Kanban as path for agility but again I have seen mostly people teach Scrum there and same stuff like Product Owner, Product Backlog and Self-Organized team. So why not to have 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 to learn crappy scrum on the name of Agile Fundamentals or Bootcamp and end up unlearning what you have learnt and then relearn? These workshops make sense when you look for diversity or would like to explore bit of these frameworks/approach/methods but does that really happen this way?

Why we have some poor understanding about Scrum framework and who is really responsible for all these?

First, I would like to blame process of engaging trainer where trainer get selected on basis of lowest quote. I know at least 2 large organizations in Malaysia where they selected cheapest trainer, burnt money and they invested again. But next they put quality as criteria in selection over cost.

Second, part-time trainer and poor content is equally responsible for this. Many trainers end up sharing same content and examples without understanding context and background of participants. Trainers might have not worked in all the functions but at least he/she can prepare himself/herself to give better experience in class. Most training content and examples are software development centrics and very less examples available around other product development
Third is training companies themselves. They don’t invest in their own marketing and sales staff to train them. If they are knowledgeable then they can bring awareness as well.

What are we doing about it?

Doing About Learning and Development

We are ready to organize 1-3 hours free workshops for human capital, learning & development and senior manager at no cost so feel free to 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 only way to be agile but most popular way to be agile. If you would like to learn alternative or supporting ways like XP, Lean and LeSS etc then 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.