I have been very fond of Scrum and a strong advocate for it since my first introduction to it about 12 years ago. But in recent years I have not been exposed to it so much, my current organization favors more of a Kanban approach to software delivery.
However, this last few months I have been working with a new client who is using Scrum. I was invited to join their Scrum training this last week. And Oh my! As I was listening this quote sprang to mind.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”Charles Dickens
This is where I get confused. I would appreciate comments from my friends in the Scrum community to help me rationalize whether I have drifted from the Scrum mindset or if I simply got exposed to an example of a dogmatic interpretation of Scrum.
The Daily Scrum
The trainer was talking about the Daily Scrum and how to keep it short. She suggested that – paraphrasing a little “the product owner being there was not only optional, but undesirable. The Product Owner being there encourages questions and conversation. Conversation and questions are bad, and a reflection that the Sprint planning was not comprehensive enough. If there is ambiguity in a story or the need for a question we should learn to get better at our planning.”
I was a little in shock. My advice is generally the complete opposite, that conversation is good, it is desirable and should be encouraged. I encourage the PO to be with the team all the time for questions. I will often encourage teams which have good interactions with the Product Owner to reduce the detail in stories and rely on the conversation more, for me it is the outcome that matters and not perfect planning. Over the years I have correlated the amount of text on the story card to inversely be a measure of the maturity of the team. (assuming they are producing value)
I was dying to jump in and disagree, but this was someone else’s training and I was there as a guest. But I did begin to question whether what was being said was a misinterpretation or have I misinterpreted and my move away from Scrum has resulted in practices which conflict with the Scrum philosophy.
The agile mindset
On the flip side and the other side of that quote I began with… I was on the training with the Product Owner from the team I am currently working with and I was astonished at how quickly he has grasped an agile mindset and how comfortably he has taken to thinking in an agile way. It took me a lot of time and effort to achieve the comfort level he is at.
We have been planning an MVP and he has been simply brilliant, the conversation is about balancing value and necessity and it is impressive how easy it has been to navigate the usual pitfalls. Sometimes you get really lucky with your team, and the job is so much easier when there is an agile mindset at play.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Scrum question, let me know…