“All models are wrong. Some are useful” -George Box

The more I try to help individuals and organizations on the path to Professional Scrum, the more I realize that most needless suffering in the name of Scrum is due to a fundamental mis-match of mental models.

To which you might justifiably respond – “Who or what is this mental model, I speak of?” Let me explain…

My copious research on this topic (5 second google search) has yielded this bounty from my personal information butler-

“A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences.” – WikiPedia

Instead of asking people if they believe in Scrum, I am trying another experiment – sharing 10 statements that represent my view of a Scrum-patible mental model and asking for a reaction.

  1. UNCERTAINTY: Teams trying to deliver valuable solutions in rapidly changing environments face uncertainty due to blind spots in the areas of market needs, technology behavior and human interactions.
  2. RISKS: This uncertainty creates a high risk of wasting precious time and money delivering solutions that don’t generate the desired value.
  3. RISK MANAGEMENT: One possible way to manage this risk is to use short feedback loops that shine a flash-light to illuminate what is valuable and what is wasteful.
  4. SINGLE SOURCE OF TRUTH: Feedback loops are most valuable when they comes from through frequent delivery of “Done” increments to the single source of truth – the market.
  5. “DONE”: To be “Done”, Increments must meet all applicable quality and regulatory requirements as captured in the organization’s and team’s “Definition of Done”.
  6. VERTICAL SLICING: Teams cannot frequently deliver “Done” increments to the market without vertical slicing which decomposes large, valuable outcomes into thin, valuable, micro-outcomes.
  7. VALIDATED LEARNING: Vertical slicing helps teams rapidly deploy valuable solutions to the market to gain validated learning about what is and is not valuable.
  8. COURSE CORRECTION: Validated learning gives team the option to course correct by increasing future investments in valuable items and decreasing future investments in wasteful items.
  9. SAFETY: Course correction requires courageous conversations to challenge pre-existing beliefs, often held by powerful people. These conversations require safety so that the truth can be shared without retribution.
  10. INFORMED CHOICE: Professional Scrum Practitioners have a responsibility to educate organizations about the what, why and how of Scrum so that each organization can make an informed choice about whether they would like to try Scrum or not.

Remember that not all organizations are compatible with, ready for or interested in Scrum. This does not make the organizations bad. Nor does it make Scrum bad. It might just mean that Scrum is not a good fit for the organization at that point in time. Scrum is not the only framework in town. If it doesn’t resonate with you, try something else.

Whaddyathink?