[From the Archives] There can be only one Scrum

I‘ve been blogging about Scrum and Agile software development since 2005, and you can find my older work on my personal website. Some of the material has proven to be very popular over the years. So, in an effort to share this the material with a wider audience I’ve decided to start a series featuring the best of my material. Let me know in the comments if you find this interesting or useful.

The idea for this post came from an online discussion that I had regarding types of large scale Scrum. Many of the ideas that were being dicussed had already been debated within the Scrum community and resulted in the concept that “there can be only one Scrum.” Although these ideas have all be talked about before, much of the conversation is hidden in Yahoo forums and I wanted to take this opportunity to raise the visibility of the discussion to a wider audience.

In the beginning …
In the beginning there was the HBR paper, “The New New Product Development Game”, that served as a source of inspiration for the first Scrum. This paper talk about more than just Scrum. It discussed different types of Scrum (Page 3, exhibit 1), specifically Type A, Type B and Type C.

What happened to Type B and Type C
In the software community we only talk about Scrum, without distinguishing between different types. Why is that? Why is there no exploration of “advanced” Scrum topics such as Type B and Type C?

Jeff Sutherland introduced Type B and Type C directly into Scrum most notably through his blog posts in 2005 titled “Scrum Evolution: Type A, B, and C Sprints”. This ultimately lead to a debate in on the ScrumDevelopment mailing list and prompted Ken (Schwaber) to post his thoughts on the subject:

I’ve been following the threads about type N, A, B, C and advanced Scrum. Although these may represent the engineering, personnel, and product management practices that an organization adopts as a result of Scrum’s inspect and adapt, they aren’t Scrum.

There can only be one
Ken’s position has since been widely adopted throughout the Scrum trainer community, and over time Ken’s original position appears to have solidified: “There is only one Scrum

What does the mean, and what is the one type of Scrum? In a recent discussion, Tobias Mayer summed it up nicely when he commented that Scrum is “a framework and a set of principles which will allow you to emerge your own process, one which respects your context (e.g. culture, people, products…), and morphs over time as appropriate.”

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