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Agile/Scrum: The Way I See It

16 October 2017

Karthikeyan Srinivasan
Cisco Systems (P) Ltd

I considered Agile to be a myth until, not long ago, we actually transitioned to the Scrum framework for software development.

It has been a year since we made this transition, and I have since been assigned the role of ScrumMaster. We faced many unknowns, and chaos ruled over our entire team in the beginning. Both development and QA were skeptical of the transition and thought, "OMG, Agile is here. We need to do all the coding, automation, and testing!"

The truth is that changes are inevitable, and we have to accept that fact. Our perceptions have changed, and now we can look at how far we've come. We also know we have a long way to go. But there is a lot of learning and fun along the way.

Scrum is one Agile framework for software project development that helps us to be flexible and nimble. It was framed in a way that I could understand and was familiar with: To me, it is similar to a family system. Each role in the team has significant value.

Comparison of frameworks

It became clear that there were some differences and similarities among the three major frameworks in my work and family life. Below is a summary of how the family system, Agile (Scrum), and the Waterfall method compare.

Division of labor

Family system: The work is distributed among family members based on sex, age, and experience so that no individual is burdened with all of the day-to-day work.

Agile/Scrum: The user story tasks are distributed among team members based on their skill sets and experience.

Traditional Waterfall: Task distribution is decided upon based on expertise and experience, but the individual owns the tasks until he or she completes them, resulting in silos.

Team events

Family system: Dinnertime acts as a change agent whereby all family members share their day-to-day work at the table. The experienced members share their thoughts, which makes life easier for the younger, less experienced members. The sharing ensures that there is someone to help each person shoulder his or her burden.

Agile/Scrum: Team members talk about each of their tasks and the issues that they are seeing on that particular day. Other team members share their views, and issues get resolved, making team members feel that their voices are heard and valued.

Traditional Waterfall: A weekly status meeting is called, but no one is listening to the problem that each individual is facing. It is up to the individual to overcome problems, so that they have the right status the following week.

Leisure time and harmony

Family system: The day-to-day work is so valued and rigorously shared among family members that the tasks become small in the hands of each individual. The minimization of each task results in creating pockets of leisure and harmony among family members.

Agile Scrum: Similar to the family system, the tasks are shared based on their complexity and the availability of team members. Distributing the workload allows more time for leisure and fosters harmony among team members.

Traditional Waterfall: Leisure time and harmony are restricted by silos, as are the tasks.

Value system

There is regular interaction among members (team members in Agile and family members in a family), and one can see the value of this interaction when compared with the traditional Waterfall model in terms of:
  • Transparency
  • Balance
  • Leadership
  • Understanding
  • Collaboration
  • Respect
This influential value spreads among the team members, with the actions of the more experienced ones influencing the actions, confidence, and knowledge of the rest.

"The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is the team." — Phil Jackson, American basketball player, coach, and executive

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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