Why do we do what we do?

I thought of doing a few short posts on the why’s of agile and specifically scrum. Product owners are driven by ROI, so why should we not adopt the same attitude regarding the various “ceremonies” and practices we adopt in our day to day agile development lives… why do I do <something> and what is the benefit of doing it?.

I think it’s important that people understand the rationale behind doing something (like time-boxing for example) before simply adopting it, unless, of course, you like the idea of arranged marriages 😉

Here’s a couple of starters I’ll try cover:

  • Why is it important that the team decides what work should get done?
  • Why do scrum “by the book” first, and then change it?
  • Why do we time-box?
  • Why are the roles, and the clear separation of roles, so important in scrum?
  • Why have a retrospective?
  • Why demo?
  • Why use a physical scrum board?
  • Why should the team run the scrum board?
  • Why use a tool to help you run your project?
  • Why the daily stand-ups?

and others …

Feel free to give me some answers, but I’m not really interested in someone else telling me the answers. This is more of a personal journey of discovery so that I myself can understand why I do what I do, and yes, the answers may not be perfect, but every great journey must start with a first step…

A journey…

As I delve deeper and deeper into “Scrum” and read more and more blogs / papers on the subject I keep fixating on the same question… “What does it mean to be a ‘ScrumMaster’?”.  Yes, I know there are the standard “definitions” of it but I think it’s more than that. Personally I equate it to a journey, a kind of never-ending journey of improvement, both to self and to everyone you touch. I do not think it is a methodology, I do not believe it is even a process, I simply believe it is a set of guidelines that set you on the path to greater understanding and improvement.

My own personal journey has been interesting, and I’m sure will be for a long time to come. I started off thinking Scrum was “the silver bullet” that will solve all problems, but the more I read and the more I try to apply it the more I realize it is not a solution, it is merely a way to find a solution, and that almost every day the more I practice it and the more I experience it the more I realize that it’s core purpose is actually to expose places of improvement!

Along these lines I believe that the job of a “ScrumMaster” is to improve the world around you to a point where you become obsolete, so, the act of becoming a “Master” of “Scrum” is the act of mastering the art of exposing areas of improvement and acting on these immediately and to the best of your ability, and then taking the results of this and feeding it back into this continuous loop of inspect and improve.

Following this I think (some of) the greatest strengths of a “ScrumMaster” are:

  • To truly observe and listen, without interfering.
  • To act without hesitation, but with a certainty based on knowledge backed by experience.

I welcome any thoughts on this, am I wrong? Am I at close?