Some of the problems I see in Agile Methods – Part 2

Another problem I see in some Agile Methods is a lack of flexibility about the rules they

Another problem I see in some Agile Methods is a lack of flexibility about the rules they propose. I see that as some kind of contradiction: for example, Scrum is empirical only for things that it does not define beforehand.

“Don’t change Scrum” is something that Ken Schwaber wrote in his book Scrum and the Enterprise. Here’s his rationale for this: Scrum isn’t a process that you can modify to fit your enterprise. Instead, it exposes every dysfunction in your enterprise while you build products… Whenever people change Scrum, it’s because they’ve run into a problem, dysfunction, or conflict that they do not want to face and fix. Instead, they change Scrum so that the problem remains invisible and remains deadly to the enterprise. If you allow this to happen, you will have lost Scrum’s primary benefit”.

I know that I can’t change the speed of light… But… why can’t I change Scrum? And what exactly is it that I can’t change? Are Scrum advocates so sure that it doesn’t make sense to have standups twice a day or once every two days or that they can last less or more time? Or that I can’t use any other estimation method?  Or that being a Scrum Master is a full time job? Or that always the team has to be self organized? Or that scheduling tasks is not needed?

The rationale I imagine for this position is that being flexible will lead to misuses and ineffective processes. And that makes a lot of sense. In the past, for example, this is what happened to CMM and its original appraisal method “Software Process Assessments”. If you’re flexible, as that method was, people that don’t deserve a CMM Level will get it. So let’s make the evaluation method more rigid. And they created CBA-IPIs. But that method was also too flexible, and so they created SCAMPIs. But from what I see, this increasing rigidness is causing more problems than solutions to CMMI.

So what I understand is that some agilists say “If you’re flexible with Scrum, some people will say they use Scrum when they don’t and they will spoil its good name, so, don’t change it”. I really can’t agree with this. Scrum has very few rules, but I see no rules there that can’t be changed if it’s done with expert judgment and based on empirical evidence.

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