by Leon Rosenshein

What is Scrum?

Do you do Scrum? Do you have an official ScrumMaster who isn't your EM/PM? Do you rotate the job of Scrum Master? And what's the job of your Scrum Master anyway? According to the official scrum guide,

The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. Scrum Masters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

The Scrum master's responsibility is to make the Scrum better. Both inside the team and through team interactions with others. The Scrum Master role is more about kaizen than anything else. It's not sprint management. It's not translating business requirements to a User Story. It's not presenting the team's work at demo days or delivering a burndown chart.

I've spent a lot of time on teams that said they were doing Scrum, but really were just doing two week planning cycles and daily standups. That's not Scrum. It can be agile, and it can be effective, but it's not Scrum.

Personally, the thing I like best about Scrum, and something you can do with "doing Scrum" is the retrospective. After a cycle, however you define it, look back at what you've done. And more importantly, look back at how you did it. What were the process problems, not the technical ones. What were the gaps in User Stories that you didn't notice until you were busy implementing them? How could you have found those gaps sooner? What are you going to do next time to prevent those gaps?

Because Scrum, at its core, falls under the scope of the Agile Manifesto. As such, it's about people over process and continuous improvement. So blindly following the forms of Scrum, without following the principles, isn't Scrum at all.