“ScrumButs and Modifying Scrum
ScrumButs are reasons why teams can’t take full advantage of Scrum to solve the problems and realize the benefits. Every Scrum role, rule, and timebox is designed to provide the desired benefits and address the problems. ScrumButs mean that Scrum has exposed a dysfunction that is contributing to the problem, but is too hard to fix. A ScrumBut retains the problem while modifying Scrum to make it invisible so that the dysfunction is no longer a thorn in the side of the team.
A ScrumBut has a particular syntax: (ScrumBut)(Reason)(Workaround)
So, doing ScrumBut is bad. It prevents the team / organisation to obtain the full benefits of when doing Scrum properly. Right…
Thing is, when moving to Scrum, I haven’t worked with any team which didn’t have to go through some form of ScrumBut, and stay in that state for a while. Some of them never made it out, and sometimes, ScrumBut is good enough for them.
When transitioning, there are going to be part of the organisation resisting the change. In some instances, that resisting can be overcome pretty easily and rapidly. In some other cases, it can take weeks, months, years to reach a certain level of change, and required efforts and resources can be massive.
Also, although we could be in a ScrumBut situation, it is important to accept that the level of transition achieved may already have had very positive impacts on the business, with some people, quality, predictability, visibility, time to market, total cost of ownership, fit for purpose benefits. Maybe the extra effort and investment might be too high for the expected return…
Sometimes that said level of transition is enough and allows the team / organisation to achieve their targets and keep competing, or indeed lead the competition. Would they get even better if they could get out of the ScrumBut state? No doubt about it! However, just like defining a test first and coding to pass the test allows us to say “enough coding”, a company may achieve a stated improvement on one of their important business dimensions by implementing “just enough” of the Scrum practices, and adhering just enough to the principles and values.
In time, the sense of urgency to do “more” may increase again, at which point getting out of the ScrumBut state will also increase. In the meantime and for many companies, doing ScrumBut might just be enough.
The real issue for a company is more that they need to agree that they are doing ScrumBut, and that they need a way to know when ScrumBut is not enough anymore.