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Recently the Scrum Alliance released a ‘State of Scrum’ study to its members and general public. The report is based on an extensive survey of nearly 500 participants from more than 70 countries. The goal of the survey was to understand the current “State of Scrum” using the 800,000+ members of the Scrum Alliance, ProjectManagement.com, and ProjectAtWork communities. I will use this blog to highlight data points and provide my thoughts.

  1. 54% either agree or strongly agree that a certification such as a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) improves their chances of sustained SCRUM success.
  2. Culture is king in the agile world and organizations must create cultures that encourage collaboration in order to deliver value to their customers.
  3. Scrum is the overwhelmingly preferred agile method used by 40% of the respondents, followed by Kanban, 15%.
  4. 41% of respondents feel that fulfilling customer needs is highest.
  5. 34% of the respondents felt that Scrum was successful on at least 75% of the projects for which it was deployed

Point #1: Whether you are a proponent for certifications are not, in my opinion, training and certification is needed in order to successfully lead a scrum team for this reason; typically, scrum projects are started as skunkworks with little guidance. If you have the training you know how to handle the unexpected, know how to build your scrum team, and know how to communicate up and down the organizational hierarchy. Certification lets the team, management, and others know that you professional and are skilled in your craft. I also realize that experience is also needed to be successful, but training and certification tells me that you are committed to the craft and you finish what you start.

Point #2: One overlooked and underestimated item when starting a scrum project is the need to account for organizational change. I have seen many a project fail due to inattention given to this item. Very little occurs in a corporate organization without management knowledge and approval. Agile, if performed correctly, will force the organization to examine itself and make organizational changes for the better. Having executive support can ease the changes and it will also give you a place to discuss issues, impediments, and make continuous improvement suggestions and acknowledge Whole™ team success.  Referring back to point #1, training and having certified team members will give you a roadmap on how to begin the agile transformation that will lead to you effectively managing organizational change.

Point #3: I was not surprised to read the results of Scrum being the preferred Agile method because one, it focuses on collaboration and planning; two, it is very easy for a team to pick up and learn; and three, it focus on the customer. Scrum will continue to grow [in popularity and use] because it is poised for the “Age of the Customer.” Having a product owner who is actively engaged in the project can lead to a successful project provided that product owner has been trained in Scrum, is passionate, knowledgeable, willing to collaborate, and be a servant leader.

Point #4: In leading an agile transformation for a Fortune 26 company a day did not go by where the team did not ask how does this fulfill the customer’s needs when a new requirement was identified, when a user story was written, when development was started and when testing was initiated. A focus on the customer is paramount when working on scrum teams. Having a product owner heavily involved gave the project credibility and using Scrum enabled the product owner to provide the necessary guidance.

Point #5: I agree with point 5 with a few caveats. One, this will be difficult to achieve it the scrum team is being managed in a command and control way. Servant leadership must be employed. Two, the maturity level of the team has to be at the performing stage (Tuckman Model®) in order to delivery consistently. Three, the PMO must be involved to provide guidance and implement continuous improvement measures that are beyond the scrum team’s ability, organizationally. For example, if a scrum project is working in a service-tiered organization that team will perform well until it needs to go outside itself for things that are performed outside the core team (e.g. infrastructure). Success will be at its greatest when all team members, core and non-core, collaborate together in delivering a product that meets the customer’s expectations and can plan and solved their problems together.

My final take on the survey is this, for an organization to begin to realize the benefits of agile they need to have a servant leader PMP®, PMI-ACP, or CSP® managing the project through a PMO, have executive support, exist in a large revenue generating company where SCRUM training is provided to the Whole™ team and have a product owner. This will be the roadmap for prolonged success.

What do you think, go to http://www.scrumalliance.org/why-scrum/state-of-scrum-report, download the report, or watch the video, and respond to my remarks. And remember, Agility…Iteratively™! MJS