Click here to close now.

SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: David Sprott, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, tru welu

Related Topics: Java IoT, Industrial IoT, @MicroservicesE Blog, Microsoft Cloud, IoT User Interface

Java IoT: Article

Why Is Scrum So Widely Adopted and So Very Dangerously Deceptive

Just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, doesn’t mean it’s a duck

I was sitting in a meeting sometime ago with a company that was embracing Scrum like a ten year old being offered a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies. They were grabbing at it as fast as they're little hands could reach out and grab the goodies.

Watching this made me wonder what is was about Scrum that made them embrace it so emphatically. They had claimed to be an Agile shop for years, but were still failing to deliver quality software on time with in budget. Over the past years they refused every single proposed process improvement recommendation made by dozens of consultants. They literally went from zero process (using the name Agile to execute no process at all) to zealot Scrumbots overnight. After spending some time pondering this and interviewing a few people I found the answers I was looking for.

Scrum was allowing them to preform the magic trick of perceived success better than they had ever been able to before just using the generic fake Agile process. A scary realization. This of course was not the fault of the Scrum process. It was the team's refusal to truly change anything except a few timelines, titles of individuals, and a few names like iteration to sprint.

First lets look at the developers. Scrum did not require the developers to change anything they were doing except code less in a given iteration (now called sprint) because the only required change imposed on them was shorter deadlines. They were still not required to adopt agile programming practices, because the scrum process they implemented didn't advocate for change at a developer level, only a middle management level.

No code reviews, no difference in testing, no difference in the use of patterns or TDD, no difference in anything except, now missed deadlines were written off to "we are not only agile we are Scrum, push it to the next sprint". Bugs… they don't exist, they are errors or simply new requirements that need new user story written for them. Of course their favorite part of the process they implemented is that there is no design or architecture involved. Just cowboy coding as fast as their little fingers can spew the crap out to the screen.

Project managers were renamed Scrum Masters. They were not given the responsibilities of the role of Scrum Master as defined by scrum. They simply changed role names and continued to project manage.


Upper management doesn't care. They are planning the same and paying the same prices for projects. They are getting reports that improvements are taking place, but don't bother to look at the bottom line which isn't actually changing.

None of the several projects run under Scrum have come in within budget, on time, or any less buggy. It just shows me that the same thing I have watch over the years is still happening with software development process. Most places are only pretending to adopt them. The same sad truth remains, that they actually usually think that they are changing. They are whole organizations in denial about their development environments.

Like I said above this is not the fault of Scrum. I have seen it make improvements, but only when change actually happens. It must happen at the upper management level, the project (middle) management level, and huge changes have to happen at the developer level. Architecture on any decent size project is just as important as it ever was, so to think you can do without it is naïve and shows immaturity. I have been seeing the Waterfall syndrome happening way too much with Scrum. People look at the picture and read a few lines of information about the process and think they got it. Waterfall was iterative, people simply did not read the entire paper behind the diagram. Scrum needs much more implemented than the time management aspects shown in the diagram.

Agile processes require agile development practices, which include architecture and design. Without them, you are only pretending to execute Scrum. I would recommend taking a look at the Scaled Agile Framework. Scrum is one small blip in the big picture of enterprise development.

How do you avoid this company's same fate? Bring in an outside consultant who knows software process engineering and put them in charge. Your team's best thinking have gotten them to where they are today, if that is not where you want your company to be, their best thinking won't get you anywhere different tomorrow. I have now seen Scrum transform one organization's development team and process, but that team brought in a consultant and allowed that consultant to lead the initiative. Although there was some resistance to the changes being made, because a majority of the team went along with them, the rest eventually followed.

I do not believe Scrum offers anything more than any other process including OpenUP, the Unified Process, RUP, XP, etc. Where the difference between success and failure lies is in the implementation of them, actually executing them with someone who has successfully executed them on multiple projects, and your willingness to take and execute their advice. That will mean change. Change in skill sets of your people, or change in your people, but to believe you can go from using no process to implementing any of these processes without help and changing is just naive and guaranteed to fail. That is unless you fake it like the company from this blog did and so many others I have seen do.

More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust...
2015 predictions circa 1970: houses anticipate our needs and adapt, city infrastructure is citizen and situation aware, office buildings identify and preprocess you. Today smart buildings have no such collective conscience, no shared set of fundamental services to identify, predict and synchronize around us. LiveSpace and M2Mi are changing that. LiveSpace Smart Environment devices deliver over the M2Mi IoT Platform real time presence, awareness and intent analytics as a service to local connecte...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Amazon and Google have built software-defined data centers (SDDCs) that deliver massively scalable services with great efficiency. Yet, building SDDCs has proven to be a near impossibility for companies without hyper-scale resources. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, David Cauthron, CTO and Founder of NIMBOXX, highlighted how a mid-sized manufacturer of global industrial equipment bridged the gap from virtualization to software-defined services, streamlining operations and costs while connect...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
paradigm shifts in networking, to cloud and licensure, and all the Internet of Things in between. In 2014 automation was the name of the game. In his session at DevOps Summit, Matthew Joyce, a Sales Engineer at Big Switch, will discuss why in 2015 it’s complexity reduction. Matthew Joyce, a sales engineer at Big Switch, is helping push networking into the 21st century. He is also a hacker at NYC Resistor. Previously he worked at NASA Ames Research Center with the Nebula Project (where OpenSta...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will address the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affec...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In this session, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the ...
While there are hundreds of public and private cloud hosting providers to choose from, not all clouds are created equal. If you’re seeking to host enterprise-level mission-critical applications, where Cloud Security is a primary concern, WHOA.com is setting new standards for cloud hosting, and has established itself as a major contender in the marketplace. We are constantly seeking ways to innovate and leverage state-of-the-art technologies. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mike Rivera, Seni...
EMC Corporation on Tuesday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Virtustream. When the transaction closes, Virtustream will form EMC’s new managed cloud services business. The acquisition represents a transformational element of EMC’s strategy to help customers move all applications to cloud-based IT environments. With the addition of Virtustream, EMC completes the industry’s most comprehensive hybrid cloud portfolio to support all applications, all workl...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are bein...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair. The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...