Why we’ve ditched scrum sprints (and you should too)

#91 – May 30, 2022


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There’s probably no other framework that impacted modern software development as much as Scrum. For many organizations, it’s the first step towards a mature product development organization and you will find a bazillion articles explaining what Scrum is and how you can implement it in your organization. I dare to say it’s so popular that almost every software organization tried at some point to implement one of its core principles — the two-week sprints.

Working with stakeholders can be tough. Whether it’s sales, marketing, PR, legal, or finance, these folks tend to have strong opinions about the product, and they are often more senior or more influential than you. They certainly are better at negotiation, escalation, and corporate politics. Your company is probably not offering good tools to deal with this situation, and your manager will prefer that you resolve it on your own.

I’ve been thinking about a problem that may be a niche or less spoken about at the very least. The problem is how organizations learn to collaborate once the teams and departments move to product-based funding. They no longer have the project to drive priority and alignment caused by the funding and they typically have fewer project managers to pull the threads together.

When I was a young boy, a cousin gifted me a copy of Steely Dan’s greatest hits. In that era of CDs and 56k baud modems, I didn’t have much new music to play, and over the summer I listened to that CD enough that bits and pieces come back to me despite not knowingly listening to a Steely Dan song in at least 25 years. One song in particular, Black Cow, has a lyric that occasionally comes to mind, “You should know / How all the pros play the game / You change your name.”

OKRs are one of those business ideas that are just simple enough to be dangerous. You think you understand it in a day, and you can see where your company is falling short: lacking focus and underdelivering. You see how clear, measurable goals could improve the situation.


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