Scrum doesn’t work in my organisation!

This is the statement I hear a lot in my Certified Scrum Master (CSM) classes in India. I got used to this statements after running close 150 workshops. When we dug deeper into why it doesn’t work, we found many reasons. Here are main categories of reasons why Scrum may not work the way it is expected in your organisations.

Customer doesn’t understand Scrum

This applies largely to service industry where the projects are given to a vendor organisation and expecting them to deliver in Scrum framework. The problem is that the customer organisation doesn’t understand how Scrum works. This also applies to business side of the product organizations. This leads to wrong expectations by the customer. Here are the top issues:

  • Customer wants a Fixed scope project and deliver in Scrum
  • Customer wants to change the requirements often but doesn’t revise the timelines if needed
  • Customer doesn’t collaborate and provide the needed information timely
  • Customer doesn’t play Product Owner role and someone from vendor company takes up the role. This leads to no or misunderstood vision.
  • Customer doesn’t take the accountability for success or failure of the product or project

Organisation doesn’t understand Scrum

This is the problem with vendor companies aligning with what ever customer says not trying to educating them nor don’t care about doing Scrum correctly. This could be mainly due to focusing on delivering as per the contract over delivering the value. Top issues here are:

  • Vendor companies don’t want to be transparent to their customers
  • Organisations not empowering Scrum Roles
  • Organisations do not believe in Scrum Values (Focus, Openness, Courage, Commitment and Respect)
  • Organizations are hierarchical and promote more controlHR policies like performance management are anti-agile

Teams are not willing to change

This applies to all kind of organisations where teams are not willing to take on change frequently. This could be due to not knowing how to deal with it or lack of knowledge on Scrum and Agile Engineering practices. The top reasons are

  • Teams don’t have knowledge on Scrum and Agile Practices
  • Senior members of the team having fear of losing position
  • No motivation for doing better
  • Team members don’t exhibit team behaviour
  • Team members don’t exhibit the ownership of the product

Product is hard to work with

Many software products are at a state it is hard to change anything. This could be due to not following better engineering practices or these products have been built over years and so on. Top reasons are:

  • Architectures and Designs are rigid.
  • No automation or running an automation is expensive
  • Hard to work with out dated technologies being used
  • Products are huge and it is hard to deliver anything in a Sprint

Whatever is the reason, it is your current reality. Being aware of the problem itself is half the success in solving it. I advise participants to learn Scrum well so that you can assess why it may not work in your organisations. Then take baby steps in solving those and iterate towards the agility.

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