Why Scrum Matters Now More Than Ever

As we near then end of 2020, it seems like a good time to explore why Scrum matters more than ever in this year of pandemic-forced changes to our workplaces and work patterns.

Scrum Keeps Us Connected

With its collaborative, team-based structure, Scrum has kept us connected and productive during a time of unprecedented and absolutely vital social isolation. Continuous engagement with teammates ensures that no member of a Scrum Team is left feeling unconnected. Using the array of communication and collaborative work tools available to us, Scrum Teams have, after an initial period of adjustment beginning back in March, continued to work much as before the pandemic struck. While my sample is clearly anecdotal rather than statistical, most of the people I interact with in classes say they prefer the new way of working – no commuting, no office distractions to accommodate, and far fewer extraneous demands on their work time.

Scrum Works for Dispersed Teams

This had been a topic of discussion for many years before the pandemic put to bed any misgivings. It turns out that the previous standard advice – keep dispersion to the same time zone if at all possible and never try to disperse a Scrum Team across more than a two-hour time zone difference – was sound as borne out by the vast experience of essentially all Scrum Teams worldwide suddenly being compelled to work remotely. What has come as a surprise is just how seamlessly the members of Scrum Teams were able to adapt from working physically in-person to working in a virtually connected environment. Most of the people I’ve interacted with this year have stated unequivocally that their team’s work has improved in the new dispersed world. Most people have also stated that their team connections and their individual contributions are now more satisfying than in the pre-COVID-19 world. It turns out Scrum not only works for dispersed teams, it is probably the best way currently known to organize a dispersed workplace.

Scrum Supports a Healthy Work-Life Balance

One of the complaints I read from newly dispersed employees is that their organizations expect them to be online 24/7. Only by violating several Agile Values and Principles as well as a collection of Scrum rules could an organization do this to a Scrum Team. Indeed, again based on my anecdotal sample of conversations with people in training classes, my experience indicates that working from home as a member of a Scrum Team has enhanced further a healthy balance between work and the life that is both made possible by work and makes work worth doing. Work and life are not mutually exclusive – or at least they should not be – but are different aspects of what makes up a full, rich life. Working on a Scrum Team helps us find the right balance between these two major aspects of life. The pandemic has, in many ways, helped us focus on what’s important in life and what we can do without. Excessive work at the expense of other parts of life is inimical both to Agile Values and Principles and the practice of Scrum and is clearly one of those things we can do without.

All for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and Scrum on!