This is a chapter from Amplio Development: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile Teams

Scrum is based on the belief that people working within its preset framework will expose impediments and that they will then figure out how to remove them. It is immutable because it does not provide a way to tell if a suggested change to Scrum will be an improvement or not. Hence, it demands immutability of its key practices.

This often works when people have the skills to do their work. But much of the time, people do not have these skills when Scrum is adopted. Providing these skills is essential and can be done if you believe it is possible to have a well-defined approach be effective in solving complex problems. The adopters of Scrum have expressly stated that this is not possible. Instead, a small framework that people can use as a foundation to figure out solutions is proposed.

Amplio is based on a different mindset. It has identified first principles and a method for using them (the Value Stream Impedance Scorecard) that can be used to accurately predict if a workflow change wil be an improvement.

 See A Fundamental Question That Separates Many in the Agile Community for more on this belief earlier in this book.

Without such a guide, people often make poor decisions on what might improve their work methods. This often happens after trying to remove an impediment to no avail. Abandoning certain Scrum practices makes sense at times – nothing works everywhere. But the objectives of those practices must still be met. Unfortunately, as Edgar Schein observes, “We don’t think and talk about what we see; we see what we are able to think and talk about.” Alternatives with greater efficacy and requiring lower energy to implement are not seen and therefore not taken.

Ironically, when teams are struggling with a Scrum practice and see no alternative, they often abandon the practice. Scrum proponents often chastise them for not following Scrum and call them ScrumButs. Instead of blaming people for not being motivated enough or for not committing to put in more energy to follow Scrum, I suggest we find an alternative approach that lowers the energy required to get past an impediment.

Amplio is based on the belief that no practice is the best one everywhere. Instead of focusing on the practices of Scrum, we can shift our focus to the objectives of its practices. Then, we can ask ourselves, “are there other ways of meeting this objective?” This parallels how patterns are defined. Patterns are “solutions to recurring problems in a context.” By thinking of the Scrum practices as a solution to a particular problem when we have a cross-functional team using timeboxing to solve a complex problem, we can ask ourselves, “what would a solution to the same problem but in our context be?”

If we use a solution to this problem in our context, it will be fit-for-purpose, easier to implement, and more effective. The Scrum framework can be thought of as a framework of patterns, not practices. This is the way Amplio Development is designed.  See Amplio Is a Pattern Language.

Using double-loop learning can help us identify when we should change our practices. The value stream impedance scorecard can be used to determine if a new practice would be better (See  How to Improve or Change a Practice for more).

Lean-Theory can provide the guidance needed to transition to Scrum practices and find alternative practices when applicable. Ironically, you won’t be doing Scrum anymore. I say ironically because if Scrum were genuinely based on Lean-Thinking, using it would not take you away from Scrum.


Go to Amplio Development: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile Teams 

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