Change is part of life and has been seen in the past as something negative. It makes sense, when we lived in caves, any change in the food chain, would affect our feeding habits. We moved out of the caves but retained some resistance to change nevertheless.
One of the beauties of Scrum is its superb potential to accommodate change. A well-executed Scrum implementation aspires to accept the fact that changes happen and are important. Scrum has appeared and flourished in the software development segment with reason: software development is highly prone to changes – sometimes radical and drastic changes.
However, everything around us is prone to changes. Indeed, our ability to quickly adapt and innovate is a key factor to success nowadays. As companies and individuals get faster, more agile, our ability to quickly adapt might be the difference between success and failure.
That's why so many other segments than software development are increasingly adopting some form of Scrum to tackle their challenges. Companies are awaking to the power of designing with change in mind and embracing Agile/Scrum principles to many different areas.
If you think Scrum is applicable just to software projects, you must think again. Scrum can – and in some cases should - be used anywhere. In the Scrum training sessions I deliver, I show a simple example of how my family has used scrum as a tool for managing our chores and family activities. My whole family is a scrum team and we try to be as cross functional as possible respecting our areas of expertise. We keep a list of things that must be done and our Product Owner (a.k.a. “my wife”) prioritizes them. I act as a scrum- master: guarding the process and all of us get our hands dirty to get the tasks done.
A very iconic article was written and shared by Rev. Arline Conan Sutherland on the topic. She is in a privileged position, Scrum-wise, for being Jeff Sutherland's wife. Jeff is one of the co-creators of Scrum.
Rev. Sutherland used Scrum in a very unusual setting: churches. Churches have amazingly unique challenges: they work with volunteers and part-time
employees; spiritual leaders are forcefully turned into planners and managers and a multitude of congregational challenges who operate actively or not via a counseling board.
Her experience with Scrum was challenging but very successful. In her own words: “Scrum is applicable in many environments. It is not restricted to software development. If it can work in a church, it can work almost anywhere. As environments shift, necessary adaptations become evident. New environments may reveal new opportunities and add dimension to Scrum practices.”
It is not only around change that Scrum shines. According to Rev. Sutherland it “can lead to genuine adaptive change so that the organization is continually evolving and transcending the restrictions and limitations of any particular worldview. [...] It then provides groundwork for solving [problems] when we could otherwise not even be able to recognize they existed.”
More recently I have met one of the producers of the movie “The Lord of the Rings” and he reported their amazing success using Scrum for producing the movie. It was an enriching experience to discuss what a “Definition of Done” or a “Workable Task” meant in a movie setting. It was not surprising that the whole experience of using Scrum was highly rewarding - again for a complete different scenario than software development.
I am sure the list of successful Scrum implementations outside of software projects is huge and will continue to grow during the next couple of years. Therefore, every time you feel we are not working in Scrum-mode ask yourself the question: why not?
No matter what you do.