I see a lot of postings by organizations stating they are Agile/Scrum. The words are almost used interchangeably in many industries. What do these words mean?

When I think of the word Agile for an organization, in simplest terms, I think of being able to move quickly and learn quickly. In terms of software, how quickly are they able to pivot and how often are they able to ship working software? The Agile Manifesto and Principles of Agile are what being agile are all about. Agile is a way of being. It is a mindset.

When I think of the word Scrum, I think of a lightweight process framework that is clearly defined by ceremonies and roles in the Scrum Guide. I have yet to see an organization truly implement Scrum. The biggest area I see that is not implemented according to the Scrum Guide, is the following about the development team:

They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;

Development Teams are cross-functional, with all the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment;

Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members, regardless of the work being performed by the person;

Scrum recognizes no sub-teams in the Development Team, regardless of domains that need to be addressed like testing, architecture, operations, or business analysis; and,

Individual Development Team members may have specialized skills and areas of focus, but accountability belongs to the Development Team as a whole.


Based on the Scrum Guide, has your organization implemented Scrum? For example, do you have one team that is able to create a product increment with no sub teams? Can an organization truly say they have implemented Scrum if they do not have a development team as defined above?

Unfortunately, I think Agile and the Scrum framework have been used incorrectly for many years and it has caused a lot of confusion and misunderstanding for organizations. Agile and the Scrum framework are meant to be simple but that doesn’t mean easy. Based on my experience, most organizations have implemented a process that is based off of many ideas from different frameworks and people, which is OK when it’s clearly understood and the organization continuously improves. There are many reasons why the Scrum framework has a clear lightweight structure. However, it appears many organizations don’t understand and/or aren’t willing to implement it as it was designed.

I find a different way to look at an organization is to ask the question, how do we continuously improve?

What are your thoughts on the questions above? Have you ever seen an organization that truly implemented Scrum from the Scrum Guide? Is your organization being agile and leading with the Agile Manifesto and Principles?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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