Will Vanilla Scrum Work for You?

WRITTEN BY Mike Cottmeyer

In the midst of all the methodology wrangling… I’ve always felt that there is a time and a place for Vanilla Scrum. The problem is that most of the time, folks are giving vanilla Scrum a try when Vanilla Scrum just isn’t a very good fit for their organization. So that begs the question… when is it safe to apply Vanilla Scrum in your environment?

Here is my take, borrowing a little language from the Lean/Kanban community… ask yourself, can your entire value stream be encapsulated within a single Scrum team? If there are steps in your process that happen either before your team starts, after your team starts, or you have dependencies on other teams during the development lifecycle, Vanilla Scrum probably isn’t going to work.

Giving Vanilla Scrum a try without understanding your entire value stream, only results in the dev team being a local optimization in the larger enterprise. When I’m talking to clients that want to do Scrum, this is the first question I ask. If more than one team is at play… chances are I need more than Scrum to be successful.

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6 comments on “Will Vanilla Scrum Work for You?”

  1. Jeff Anderson

    Mike,
    I think you've captured the essence of the problem with scrum.

    Although in my experience I have NEVER been in a situation where a team had complete control of their value stream. This could probably happen in some product development situations, but would rarely be the case for most IT.

    Reply
  2. Rob Steel

    Mike, what would you advise when the team does not have the complete value stream within the scrum team?

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  3. Oana Juncu

    If the value stream is in the scrum team, I'd be tempted to think that whole enterprise organized around a product value stream becomes agile

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  4. Mike Cottmeyer

    Jeff, I totally agree with you. To me, that is the point of widespread Scrum adoption. If you are going to transform your organization to Scrum, you have to start encapsulating those value streams ;-)

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  5. Mike Cottmeyer

    Rob, I've blogged on this before… but I think that will be the subject of my next few posts.

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  6. Mike Cottmeyer

    Oana… not sure I fully understand your point? Do you mean that, by virtue of the value stream existing within the team, the whole enterprise WILL become agile? Are you saying that if you had the entire value stream in the team, the whole organization would be that team ;-) Probably not. Maybe that the whole organization would have to become agile? Help me out here.

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