Common complaint:

“Scrum is not working in today’s software engineering industry.”

Root cause:

This is a little like saying: there are high rates of obesity in society, that means healthy foods aren’t working. But clearly there are counter-signals that are causing obesity and preventing people from eating a healthy diet.

Likewise, if Scrum isn’t “working” in today’s software engineering industry, then perhaps there are counter-signals in the industry that are preventing teams from employing Scrum effectively.

Here are two examples of such counter-movements:

1. Many companies in recent decades invested in “open concept floor plans” rather than “team rooms”. The open concept floor plan causes many distractions, noise. So, people tend to isolate themselves with headphones or ear plugs — this prevents effective and transparent communication among team members. This was an industry-wide problem.

2. Many companies do not organize their staff into cross-functional team units. They instead reinforce a “shared services” model wherein skills-based groups of people are required to partially allocate their employees across multiple projects. This type of organization will be unable to use Scrum as intended. This too is an industry-wide problem.


Stop measuring a fish by its ability to climb a tree.

The typical, bureaucratic, siloed, rigid, document-driven enterprise is not going to be ‘agile’ — not without a major overhaul. So perhaps let’s stop expecting Scrum and other agile practices to “work” in all areas of the software engineering industry.

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