Scrum Rules: As a Team Member I Use Scrum as a Tool for Product Development

July 13, 2020
4 minute read

Scrum is an Agile process framework that is optimized for product development. The rules of Scrum are fine-tuned after decades of use to help product development teams become hyper-productive and to maximize business value.

If you use Scrum for product development, then you are applying it to the right problem. If you use Scrum for some other type of work (e.g. general project management) then you are misapplying Scrum and it probably won’t give you ideal results. Scrum is not simply a collection of best practices. Therefore, if you are using Scrum by picking and choosing some of its pieces, it is likely that you are using a sub-optimal approach to product development. In this way, Scrum is like a tool rather than a toolbox with many tools. When you take a hammer out of a toolbox, you don’t pull the head off and start pounding nails without the handle. Likewise, if you only use some parts of Scrum, you are missing the benefits of using Scrum as a tool. As a Scrum Team Member, you should know the purpose of Scrum and be aware of applying it correctly to the right problems.

Solving this problem is often well beyond the scope of a Scrum team member, with the exception of the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master may consider the following approaches to shifting the work of a Scrum team towards pure product development:

  1. Find out if the work of the team is, in fact, contributing indirectly to the creation or maintenance of a product. If so, help the team to learn about that product. This is often the case with Scrum teams working in large information technology departments.
  2. If the Scrum team is working on a service for a client or clients, the Scrum Master should encourage the Product Owner to investigate “productizing” the service. This would mean approaching client relationships differently, usually by offering less customization and variability among clients, and by billing a fixed price rather than doing time-based billing.
  3. If the Scrum team is working on a project where the result is a fixed, unique outcome and where the work effort has a definite end, and where there is no contribution to an ultimate product, the Scrum Master should consider that Scrum may not be the correct framework to be applying to the type of work.

Scrum (n): A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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