There is, unfortunately, no “one-size-fits-all” solution to any complex problem. Accepting this fact means we know some adjustments to our practices must be made. If we use a framework with predetermined practices, we must look to see how we can substitute for them.
After 20+ years of Agile, a significant amount is known about doing this. It doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. Unless you are in an organization whose culture demands a set solution, adjusting a framework or even growing your own (again, if that’s what the culture demands) will be more effective. This also can reduce resistance it might otherwise face. We must be aware of the tradeoff of the value of a set approach with the resistance it might cause.
We must attend to an organization’s culture and current state before doing a large-scale adoption. Taking a quick look to see what’s needed and adjusting for that does not take a long time and is more than worth the investment. This is not to say that we need to make custom solutions for each organization. Most organizations’ needs overlap with others to a large extent. There are well-established patterns of solutions to this set of common challenges in any event.
Although the title of this part says “problems,” it’s worth noting that a better way to think about this is overcoming “challenges.” This is not just “Pollyanna” or saying “opportunities exist in problems.” Instead, it’s essential to understand what problems are. We often think of them as real things. For example, most people would consider a flashing blue light from a police car behind them to be a problem. And if you don’t need a police car stopping you, it probably is. But the same blue light could be a good thing if you’re driving to the hospital and about to run out of gas. What’s the difference? It’s what you’re trying to accomplish at the time. In the first case, you want to go somewhere without interruption (or getting a fine). In the second, you also want to go somewhere but have another problem (or should I say ‘challenge’) of running out of gas.
This distinction is important because behind every apparent ‘problem’ is something you’re trying to do – and you’re having a challenge in getting it done. Thinking of it as a challenge reminds you of what you’re trying to accomplish – and you might find there is some other way of achieving that. Having alternatives to achieve your desired result provides options you can pick by attending to your situation.
Having pre-set solutions to problems misses opportunities to understand better ways to deal with what we want to accomplish.
Teams should never buy into a mindset of “just use it as is.” This is because “as is” may not be fit for purpose for the team. It is often useful to jump in and start doing something. Scrum is sometimes a good start. If you want to start with it, I suggest that you consider it an example of how you can do things. In other words, it isn’t the way but rather a way.
After starting, the value stream impedance scorecard can be used to make changes to Scrum’s practices safely. Use the VSIS to validate that the changes are, in fact, improvements in how to work.
We will learn how to use the VSIS later in this book. Once you know how to do that, you can start quickly with Scrum and adjust as needed. This requires knowing:
- How to improve when you uncover impediments to delivering value in your organization
- What to do when you have challenges following the practices of Scrum
The power of Scrum as an example is that neither an organization nor any individual has to abandon what they know but can use their knowledge of Scrum as a starting point.