Where it all began!

First steps towards the Scrum Methodology were taken in the year 1986, by 2 Japanese experts of commercial product development - Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. They published an article - "New Product Development Game" in the Harvard Business Review. (Yes 2 News!)

Interestingly, the Total Quality Management (TQM) came out of the manufacturing industry and so did Agile and Scrum. Hirotaka and Ikujiro referred numerous use cases from the automotive and printer manufacturing firms. And another striking similarity - the very evident Japanese connection again!

Through their research they ascertained that – small, self-organizing teams fed with clear objectives and when given the freedom to develop their own execution strategy are proven to be highly successful in achieving their goals – quality products and services!

The main focus of Scrum is - Speed and Flexibility and though born out of manufacturing it was adopted and widely popularized by Jeff Sutherland & Ken Schwaber for software development in 1995.

Another interesting aspect about the Agile methodology is the Scrum Framework. Scrum was inspired by the game of Rugby and its principle of breaking the game into individual touchdowns rather than running the Hail Mary every time!

Scrum a History
Image Source: https://medium.com

The Agile Manifesto

However, it was not until the February of 2001 when the "Agile Manifesto" was signed and released by the seventeen participants including Ken and Jeff. The history of agile manifesto is a good read for all agilists to understand how "Agile and Scrum" as we know it today came into being.

The Agile Manifesto
Image Source: http://agilemanifesto.org

The most noteworthy outcomes of the Agile Manifesto are:

  • 4 Core Values
    • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    • Working software over comprehensive documentation
    • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    • Responding to change over following a plan
  • 12 Principles
    • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
    • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
    • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    • Responding to change over following a plan
    • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
    • Build projects around motivated individuals.
    • Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
    • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
    • Agile processes promote sustainable development.
    • The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
    • Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
    • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
    • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.
      Principles behind the Agile Manifesto
      Image Source: http://agilemanifesto.org
  • What is Scrum?

    Now, the Scrum we know today is the hard work of Ken and Jeff who pioneered it into the mainstream of software development.

    Scrum as explained by Scrum Alliance is "a process framework that has been used to manage work on complex products since the early 1990s. Scrum is not a process, technique, or definitive method. Rather, it is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques. Scrum makes clear the relative efficacy of your product management and work techniques so that you can continuously improve the product, the team, and the working environment."

    The Scrum Framework consists of

    • Scrum Team
    • Scrum Events
    • Scrum Artefacts
    • Scrum Rules
  • Understanding Scrum: The Benefits

    While we will be discussing all aspects stated above in the coming chapters, I would like to complete the Scrum Introduction with some of its benefits as food for thought for you

    Going back to the basics or the roots, Agile Methodology is all about making things happen and if I may, is born out of the practical experience and a more pragmatic approach to the long standing problems faced during product manufacturing and development.

    Think of the key highlights of discussions with your customers and team members. I am sure the below items would just stand out and stare right at you:

    If it is a customer

    • I would have liked the speed of delivery to be better.
    • I like the new feature(s) or modification(s) you proposed, but can we reduce the cost?
    • I am not signing another cheque unless I see a working product.
    • How soon can you help me go-to-market or release for actual use?
    • I want more control over the development process

    And when it is our team

    • We aren't clear of the requirements – What exactly does the customer want?
    • It cannot be delivered as per the current timelines
    • We need more hours, more time
    • Why should we work on weekends?
    • Will this product ever see the light of the day?

    See what I mean? Both of them are right in their own ways and there approach or concerns are justified too. There is a distinct disconnect - even though both have the right intent towards the product our long standing ways of developing product doesn’t allow for the much needed true sync between the critical stakeholders.

    Hence, the agilists came up with multiple agile methodologies such as Lean, Kanban, Six Sigma, Scrum etc. And Scrum Project Methodology has proven to be the most relevant for software development projects in today’s business landscape.

    Stay tuned for detailed coverage of the Scrum Methodology in the upcoming chapters.