KARIERA I BIZNES
Capability to self-organize and be creative Independent Scrum Caretaker, Gunther Verheyen, reveals his experience in Scrum framework implementations beyond organization's size, branch or culture. He also emphasizes the importance of Scrum Values, humanizing the workplace and a continual active state of collaboration as the key to effectiveness. INTERVIEW MAŁGORZATA BURNECKA PHOTOS GUNTHER VERHEYEN
Do you know any successful implementations of Scrum in companies that employ less than 50 people?
Over the past 14 years of Scrum, I have worked with organizations of various sizes in various industries and at different locations. I have never found a clear, linear relationship between the size of a company and the successful use of Scrum. For some smaller organizations, organizations of the size of about 50 people you refer to, Scrum is a natural fit. Such organizations, often start-ups, tend to operate in a quite chaotic way and Scrum adds a small amount of structure and process, exactly the amount they need. In Scrum multi-disciplinary teams perform all work in Sprints, time-boxed iterations that are never more than 4 weeks, and often less. The Scrum way of organizing work helps these smaller companies to increase their focus on getting products in actually releasable versions, rather than pivoting ideas all the time. Scrum also re-enforces their approach of getting all skills to collaborate. However, much to my surprise, plenty of such small organizations copy-paste the typical operational model of medium and large organizations, i.e. heavy governance and processes on top of people separated in functional silos. And in a situation of growth, even the small organizations that naturally operate in an agile way, tend to change towards this model. Rather than replicating their working model and thereby scale up, many break up that proven model. The observation that most organizations sooner or later have this tendency to break their own working model has led me to create my narrative of “re-vers-ify”. With “re-vers-ify” I offer organizations a path, not a fixed destination, of re-emerging their internal structures. I invite organizations to re-imagine their Scrum and upon Scrum re-think their broader organizational model. The goal is to gradually move from a rigid organizational set-up to an adaptive, agile structure. After all, the agility an organization aspires to achieve is to a large extent
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dependent on their internal capability to act in an agile way. Through Scrum, organizations can un-grow toward the model that actually works and replicate it to have the same success in the large.
Which human features (or maybe weaknesses?) do you diagnose as the most difficult when working in Scrum?
In its 20+ years of existence, Scrum got mainly promoted and known as a framework for product development. When applied well, Scrum does indeed help people and organizations create excellent products (again). This is reflected in products yielding a higher return to the organization as well as improved customer satisfaction. This rather technical promotion of the Scrum framework left the positive impact of Scrum on the workplace and the people involved in the creation of products underrated. This is why I added ‘humanizing the workplace’ to my personal ambitions as a Scrum Caretaker. With Scrum an environment is established in which people can develop themselves, as a team as well as individually. Scrum has no detailed prescriptions for behavior and practices for every possible scenario and context. Scrum promotes self-organization. That liberates people, but also pushes them toward devising their own specific solutions, creating their own answers to the specific questions they are confronted with. Scrum reveals the need for cross-functional collaboration, but without prescribing how to achieve that. That is less obvious than it sounds, for the teams themselves as well as for supporting parts of the organization. Essentially Scrum offers the empirical process of regular inspection and adaptation to help people go through a journey of discovery, finding out what works, what doesn’t. No external forces instruct the team in their daily activities. I have found a continual collaborative stance to be key. I describe “Collaboractive People” as one key tenet of the Agile paradigm, people in a continual active state of collaboration. A compass to guide people through this workplace humanization process are the Scrum Val-
About Gunther Verheyen Gunther Verheyen is an independent Scrum Caretaker; a connector, writer, speaker, humaniser. Gunther discovered the magnificence of an Agile way of working through eXtreme Programming and Scrum in 2003. Since then he dedicates his professional life to Scrum. His home and office are in Antwerp, Belgium. But Gunther travels frequently to facilitate people’s understanding and use of Scrum, to help people teams, and organizations create better products and humanize their workplace. Gunther is the author of the widely-acclaimed book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)”, also available in Dutch (“Scrum Wegwijzer”) and German (“Scrum Taschenbuch”). Find Gunther on Twitter as @Ullizee or read more about Scrum on his website guntherverheyen.com.