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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Dec 6, 2019

In today’s episode, Dan Neumann is joined by Steven Granese, the Vice President of the Transform Practice at AgileThought! As the VP of Transform Practice, Steven leads a team of the top Agile Coaches, DevOps Consultants, and Product Consultants in the United States.


Together, Dan and Steven will be exploring the ‘why’ behind Scrum and examing the question of why organizations and teams should be using Scrum, in the first place. Steven often sees that the clients he’s working with lose focus on the ‘why’ behind Scrum or don’t even know what it is, to begin with! With these clients, there will be a lot of focus on the mechanics of Scrum and the framework itself (i.e. the ‘how’) without a deep understanding of why they’re using Scrum, what problems they’re trying to solve with Scrum, and what their purpose is for working with sprints with iterations. In this episode, Steven addresses how organizations can shift their perspective from a ‘how’ mentality to a ‘why’ mentality as well as many of the misconceptions and incorrect uses of Scrum (so you can be sure to avoid them!)


Key Takeaways

Why it is important to focus on the ‘why’ behind Scrum rather than the ‘how’:

The ‘why’ helps the team and organization understand what problem they’re trying to solve with Scrum in the first place

Focusing on the ‘how’ (such as: “How do we execute Scrum?”) leads to organizations applying Scrum incorrectly

Understanding the ‘why’ leads to a deeper understanding of why they’re using Scrum, the problems they’re trying to help solve with it, and what their purpose is in working with sprints and iterations

The ‘why’ behind Scrum and where it makes the most sense to use:

In conditions of high uncertainty

In environments of high uncertainty

Incorrect ways Steven sees Scrum being applied:

As opposed to building a working increment of their product, getting feedback as they go, and adjusting their sprint-to-sprint plan based on the feedback (which is the heart and soul of the ‘why’ behind Scrum), they’re not allowing feedback into the process therefore losing the ‘why’ in the process

Breaking up work into milestones instead of sprints

Treating the sprint demo like a sales pitch and not letting the customer experience the demo for themselves

Techniques and tips for achieving the ‘why’ behind Scrum:

Recognize that the market moves fast, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, and that the customer’s needs are changing very quickly

Match the way you think about your work and deliver your work to that uncertainty (which allows you to move faster)

Stop overplanning and just start working

Put increments of the product into the customers’ hands and start getting their feedback

Get back to the basics and simply focusing on two weeks at a time

Measuring the right metrics (“You get what you measure”)

Don’t just use Scrum to measure the team; use it to measure the flow of the entire system

Focus on getting really quality feedback from your customers

“Begin with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey

Through receiving high-quality, real feedback from a sprint demo, really listen to the feedback and adjust the plan and fix problems accordingly

Understand where the market is headed (and differentiate between what the customer wants and what is actually needed) by building something and putting it in their hands to get feedback

Fail fast to learn fast

Build in thin slices and get feedback as you go you will learn a ton about what users actually need and also save time by not building unneeded features

Misconceptions about the Scrum framework:

That Scrum is really about product delivery (“Scrum is just as much about discovering the solution as it is about delivering the solution” — Steven Granese)

Scrum and other Agile frameworks are seen as a delivery mechanism (as opposed to a mechanism to discover what the customer actually needs)

That you have to use Scrum (if you already know exactly what you need to build and there’s no uncertainty then there’s no need for the iterative nature of Scrum)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Steven Granese

Stephen Covey

“Wagile” (Waterfall Agile)


Steven Granese’s Book Picks:

The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations, by Gene Kim, Patrick Debois, John Willis, and Jez Humble

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations, by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim


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