September 25, 2021


News for Agilists

Serious Scrum’s complicated stance on the Scaled Agile Framework SAFe

And other adaptations of Scrum

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

We at Serious Scrum… are well… serious about Scrum. With Scrum, we mean the framework by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. This framework is fully described in the Scrum Guide. Our community members are aligned on this.

However, as individuals, we sometimes do not have the same opinions about adapted versions of Scrum as part of a larger framework, like the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) or Large Scale Scrum (LeSS). Some are passionately in favor of it, others are totally against using Scrum in such a setting. Serious Scrum may be a medium for this discussion, with respect to our community guidelines, values, and towards each other.

We encourage everyone to voice their respectful opinion whilst respecting the opinion of others. This is why you will see articles bringing forward the benefits of Scrum within SAFe while at the same time other articles carrying an opposing view. Individuals within our editorial may bring forward their personal opinion, but as Serious Scrum, we remain neutral. We are the medium, not the message.

We started Serious Scrum to create an open place for Scrum practitioners to connect and share experiences. We’re here to support Scrum practitioners — to share experiences; what works, what doesn’t work, best practices, introducing Scrum to a team, etc. We strive for a place for those like us, desiring independent content and improving our understanding of Scrum from the trenches.

Serious Scrum recognizes that Scrum is by and for us all. We empower people to think boldly, embrace diversity, act intentionally, share knowledge, and experience collectively, not exclusively.

One of the reasons we founded Serious Scrum is to focus on practitioners working with the Scrum Framework. We embrace open and respectful discussion in regards to alternative scaling frameworks, though those do not enjoy our focus.

We aim to improve the practice of Scrum ‘s pillars, values, roles, events, artifacts, and rules. Scrum is a lightweight ‘add-on’ framework. We take care not to promote the adaptation of the framework itself, even though some Agile Scaling approaches do. One of Scrum’s successful strategies for resolving (scaling) complexity is by remaining simple and lightweight itself. We may argue that the Scrum framework itself is a great approach to scaling, and we may argue there are other great approaches too. It depends.

We are professional about Scrum, but not dogmatic. We are serious, but not boring. We help and guide others to improve their practice. We recognize that “implementing only parts of Scrum is possible”- (Scrum Guide, emphasis added), but also that the “result is not Scrum”, not ‘officially’ anyways. Yet, like any sports game, the game can be played in numerous ways for different intents and purposes. Kids can creatively use their jackets to simulate a goal to play soccer, they will have fun, though it’s not exactly FIFA. We take care to help anyone who wants to improve their play.

We respect that Jeff, Ken, authors of Scrum and signatories of the Agile Manifesto, and other signatories, contributors, and proponents of the Agile manifesto and Scrum have expressed their concerns over the way SAFe applies its adaptation of Scrum and that this not how Scrum nor the Agile Manifesto had intended it to be. Equally, we respect SAFe’s endeavor and intention to introduce Lean, Agile, Scrum, XP, and even RUP artifacts, rules, and practices at scale to large enterprises. In any case, we will support all practitioners and aim to help them improve, discuss and share experiences, openly and courageously, regardless of their stance on the matter.

Having said all of this, we apply the following guidelines:

  • We refer to Scrum as defined in the latest official Scrum Guide.
  • Whenever we write about an adapted version of Scrum (as we see in SAFe) we will indicate this in the article;
  • It must be clear what is the opinion or experience of the author versus official definitions/practices and rules. The author must clearly state it is his or her advice when introducing add-on practices.
  • Our authors should be aware that the context of the environments in which Scrum is practiced can differ greatly; what may sound like good advice to an author given the author’s experience, might not have the same outcome elsewhere.
  • Our authors should take care to avoid unsupported generalizations, yet naturally, they may voice opinions; they should clearly be expressed as such.
  • The author should have practical/field experience with practicing Scrum. Perspectives from early practitioners are valued equally to those who are seasoned. Writing for Serious Scrum is a learning opportunity as our editorial and fellow community members are happy to work with writers helping them improve their writing, understanding, and practice of Scrum.

Our review process is not watertight. It’s done by people on their own time out of their passion for Scrum and willingness to help writers and readers. We are a self-organized community. Community work has a major impact on our work-life balance. We contribute to this community besides our day jobs and family lives because we care about Scrum. Although it’s been a strain to support the community with its tsunami of submissions and discussions, many of our lives have improved for the better because of Scrum and this community.

We often have to make hard choices: we want to encourage new writers to publish with us, as it is a great way for all of us to improve. At the same time, we want to safeguard quality. We want to be as open as possible for different perspectives, whilst avoiding the spread of misinformation about Scrum. We ask you to respect and trust our intention to perform the best possible review. Our review process is also a learning experience (hence we require at least two reviewers for each submission). We always value the effort and care our editors provide. Their heart is in it.

Whatever our individual opinions are, we will safeguard an open, caring, and trusting environment where we can have a respectful, helpful discussion about adaptations of Scrum between practitioners who care to learn from different perspectives.

We are convinced that this will benefit us all in raising each other’s understanding and being open-minded. We absolutely love and welcome the courage. We also are blessed with the time and effort all of you invest in exchanging these perspectives.

Thank you all for being involved and caring about each other. There are no ‘sides’ here, only lovers sharing the umbrella to keep us dry from the waterfall.

by Fernando Lara

Thank you for taking the time to connect and interact with us. Please help us grow a wonderful and valuable community by and for us all. That’s the true spirit of Serious Scrum.

— The Serious Scrum Editorial.

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