3 Simple Steps to Starting Off with Scrum

I often get asked (or read posts) wondering about how to get started with Scrum.  There are quite a few factors involved with coming up with an approach to switch to Scrum or Agile in general.  Organization size and level of internal politics is probably the largest barrier I’ve seen based on conversations I’ve had with folks, which is understandable.

Change needs to start somewhere and usually I find the people in control are most often the toughest nut to crack out of the gate.  Here are 3 simple tactical steps that can help point you in the right direction to implementing Scrum.

  1. Recognize the need for change: As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  If waterfall or adhoc project management is working well enough, don’t change it.
  2. Start with a daily standup: Even if you continue to use waterfall or adhoc methods initially, start with a quick time-boxed standup meeting with the team.   In large organizations it may be necessary to have a “scrum of scrums” meeting if the project team is too big.
  3. Hold a weekly retrospective:  this is very important.  The best way to fix something that’s broken is to talk about it.   Talk openly and honestly about what’s working and what’s not working and try to make a small improvement during the next week.

Yes it could be that simple to start off.  Obviously your mileage will vary depending on your organization, but start small and make incremental improvements over time.

The benefit you receive will be that, for starters, you recognized that something needed to be changed.  Second of all, showing a commitment to the team that you (the project manager or defacto ScrumMaster) are prepared and dedicated to making the situation better it’s a giant step for the team.    As a ScrumMaster, your job is to protect the team and ensure project success.  By having quick daily standups and frequent retrospectives you will see the team’s problems rise to the surface very quickly and you will need to take action to remove those roadblocks.

The benefit of starting in the trenches is that the time spent implementing this approach is minimal and if there are political issues that would prevent process change, this approach essentially ‘flies under the radar’ to those who would oppose it.

I’d love you hear your thoughts about problems you’ve had implementing Scrum or issues you would see based on your unique organization.  There are many approaches to take, but again, start small and make incremental gains and you will find the value in Scrum.