There are some great things about Scrum. Having a regular cadence for planning how to do work, working together to progress work and regularly reflecting and getting feedback both on how we work together and what was delivered are all great concepts.
But I have come to a somewhat scary hypothesis that it isn’t the practices, the roles and the artifacts that are actually making Scrum successful.
I think it is because you are taking your inefficient, over bloated process and replacing it with a very simple method. It works because you are taking something very heavyweight and replacing it with something lightweight.
You see, the trick to succeeding at Scrum, isn’t really the implementation of Scrum. It is whether you win the culture over process race.
As you get more used to Scrum you find weaknesses, areas where it isn’t dealing with organisational problems and you start to add in process to fill the gaps. Usually what you add in is something similar to what you used to do. At the same time, you are trying to transform the culture by changing hearts and minds towards Agile – to be agile rather than just doing Agile. This is the culture shift. When you have succeeded in this culture shift you would be less likely to introduce the additional process. Basically you have to be faster at changing the culture to enable pushing back on process bloat over the injection of new process.
This is arguably why SAFe could be a little less effective in transformation and in significant improvements – because to an extent the process is probably more medium-weight and doesn’t do enough to push back on process waste.
So the next time you plan on changing a way a team or organisation works, think about why it may be working and focus on whether every additional step being added in after the change will really add value. I find that 80% of process is added in to handle less than 5% failure scenarios. There has to be a better way.