The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.

24th
APR

Scrum is a Framework, Agility is a Concept

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Scrum Discussion

If you’re new to Scrum and agile, or like me a long time Scrummer, there are always insights to gain from talking with experienced practitioners. I had a recent opportunity to talk with Michael James (link to his blog) of Danube Technologies. He clarified something extremely basic for me, but it cemented the relationship between Scrum and agile for me so I thought I’d share it with you all.

Our conversation started with me stating that Scrum was a process that fell under the general umbrella of processes called “agile”. He quickly stopped me right there and pointed out two subtle, but important corrections. First, Michael noted that agile is not a process (or collection of processes) at all; rather, it’s a set of principles summarized by the Agile Manifesto. Scrum, XP, and other methods embody these principles and so are described as “agile”. There is no real parent-child relationship though.

Second, Michael made clear that Scrum was not a process in the technical sense of the word. A process is a prescriptive and linear series of steps taken to repeatably generate the same output. Hmm, that doesn’t sound like Scrum at all! Since we’re constantly inspecting our work and adapting the backlog, there is no repeatability we’re striving for. Instead, Michael suggested we use the term “framework” or “method” to describe Scrum. These terms suggest that we have a skeletal framework within which things happen, but that the innovation and intelligence of the team fills in the
gaps.

These two subtle corrections really changed the way I think about Scrum. Thanks, Michael!

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Reader's Comments

  1. Vijay |

    Hi. Nice post. Very useful to know abt the Scrum and the differences.

    Thanks.

  2. Alan Casey |

    Great insight! I’m developing some materials for a talk and started along the path that scrum is one part of Agile – this makes a much better point (and makes it in an accurate, clear, and brief way).

  3. ewok_bbq |

    Thanks Alan for the comment. If you need help w/ your deck, consider digging through some of mine, http://www.slideshare.net/laszlos/

    Or, invite CollabNet, Inc. onsite to help with the preso. (www.collab.net) – cheers!

  4. Undercover Brother |

    I’d think that the dictionary definitions of ‘framework’ and ‘methodology’ combined with the info in the Agile Manifesto would essentially paint the same picture of Michael’s…

    What’s all the fuss about, then?!

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