Scrum for grandmas

So I recently got certified as a Professional Scrum Master I and some friends asked what that was. The word sounds funny to them and somehow they associated it with ‘scrotum’.

This article aims to explain what scrum is to your grandma. The analogy I use is not perfect, but it can cover the basic principles of scrum for non-technical people.

Say, you were having a dinner date at your place! And you wanted to show that in addition to being good looking and smart and funny, you could cook too. You decided that you were going to cook a 3-course dish: mushroom cream soup, grilled chicken, and tiramisu.

You shopped for ingredients and you started to cook. While you cooked, you didn’t taste your cooking at all. You were confident that if you follow step-by-step recipes flawlessly, everything must be perfect. After 3 hours, you finished cooking, and your date came. You had set the table – you were ready to impress her with your amazing dishes.

They turned out to be a huge disaster. First, the soup tasted funny – the mushroom must have been rotten! The chicken was still raw in the inside you could feel the Salmonella crawling in your stomach. And the worst part was – she was allergic to almond flakes you put in the tiramisu.

Hours later after you were back from the emergency unit, you reflected the night in regret. If you could have one chance to do things differently…

  1. You would check your cooking often and didn’t wait until the final dish was done. Tasting it a couple of times would allow you to fix your mistakes before it’s too late.
  2. You would check if your oven had the same spec with the recipe maker’s oven. Turned out both oven had different definition of ‘done’.
  3. You would ask her what she wanted, or at least what she didn’t want. It would save you lots of troubles.

And those are scrum basic principles:

  1. Deliver incremental product often, test it to the market, and iterate. The whole development process is based on transparency, inspection, and adaption.
  2. Build a reliable, self-organised development team, with a shared understanding of what ‘done’ means.
  3. Only build features with optimum business value (features that will increase customer satisfaction, bring highest ROI with lowest effort).

As Papa Drucker phrased it:

“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”