Scrum as a Diagnostic Tool

Use the Scrum lens for inspection
What is Scrum? If you ask this question, you might hear a rich variety of answers. Reaching from „a method to process tasks“ over „a project management framework“ to „an instrument for organizational change“.

But this is not Scrum. These are different applications of the Scrum framework. Scrum is essentially just a collection of useful and proven to be succesful rules and practices. It is a theoretically close to ideal state for product development.

If you assume the Scrum framework to be a close to ideal state, then you can use it to find problems in different contexts – even without applying  it immediately. Let me give an example: Some years ago I was in trouble with a classically led project. At the same time I learned about the Scrum framework and thought: „How would it be, if we wanted to practice Scrum tomorrow?“. After asking myself this question, several issues why this would not work came to my mind, immediately. E.g. we would find no Product Owner, the customer would never work with us on a daily basis and we could never deliver software every two weeks. Thinking for a while I realized, that these issues where just the problems the project suffered from. Thus, trying to imagine using Scrum in my current situation helped me to consciously realize what the real problems were.

This idea is scalable: If you want to know what the real top five problems of an organization are, just go to a diverse set of people in this organization, explain shortly what Scrum is and ask them if this would work for them. Then carefully listen and note the reasons mentioned for the impossibility of using Scrum. After several interviews try to cluster and prioritize the issues you found and I bet you will have a very close picture of what the central and demanding problems of the respective organization are.

Just try it. This is much cheaper than hiring a consultancy and will – probably – deliver very similar results ;-)

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