For the last couple of years - the period during which I have started working with Scrum - I have been developing skills, working with wonderful people, started beautiful stuff and made a complete mess of it. It is for certain that, in the time I was doing “scrum”, we were doing a lot of brilliant things, but not scrum. Besides those brilliant things, and not Scrum, we made possibly every mistake there can be made in developing complex software products. The guide itself is pretty clear on things. You could do only a fine selection of Scrum events and “artifacts”, but unlike cigars, this fine selection does not add up to a fine time. I have still to experience a “full Scrum”, but until I do, I can already divulge on some of the more catastrophic consequences of leaving out key elements of Scrum in doing Half Scrum.

I know there are some pretty fierce opponents on Scrum, to start at the other end. I have been fascinated by the position taken by Erik Meijer, for example. An established career software developer from the Netherlands, he outright rejects the straightjacket of confinements imposed by the mandatory and strictly time-boxed events such as the Daily Scrum. Instead, we should just be writing code and employ a fail fast method for writing good production code.

But here’s the thing. For all projects I’ve worked on, complexity catches up to the ability of the development team to communicate. Things become even more so on projects that have people working on software part time. As the Netherlands may very well be the country with the highest level of part time laborours, the problem becomes even more poignant. In part time work, people spend less time in the same place. They invariably (in my personal experience, that is), work more on remote places, have less effective time to spend on co-created coding and so the importance of communication rises and rises. But with none of the projects I’ve worked on, there’s been anything remotely resembling Scrum, when in only name, we supposedly have been doing so. Or any other established method of communicating the acute intricacies of complexity that arise when coding actively. So output or quality or other things suffer. This is why we need frameworks like Scrum, maybe in the Netherlands even harder than elsewhere. I’ve been too long with teams saying they’re doing Scrum and then fail to include a proper sprint goal that everyone contributes to, so the project breaks apart in several pieces that all work half. Too long without proper definitions of done, so everybody assumes stuff is done while the code quality suffers tremendously through lacking unit tests. This has to stop. Not agreeing on common goals and quality standards is simply irresponsible. It is breeding three-legged horses and crossing your fingers on selling them to unsuspecting buyers (you’re the breeder, right? You’ll probably know what’s best) that they will not be thrown off on their first ride.

Another observation. Some of us may be the genius hackers who can work in a team without the need of standsups, reviews, retros and sprint plannings, but I’m sure not one of them. I’ll also state that those measures aren’t even enough. I’d order a side dish of version control, extreme programming, code reviews, test driven development, continuous integration & deployment and all the other goodies that may deter us from coding, but do wonders for communication within the team and with the people outside.

I kind of starting to get aware because I’ve been doing without for quite some years and it has been eating at my projects all the time. For years I did without a single unit test and I’ve seen it has been very foolish. For my defense: I was simply oblivious. For a couple of years I have been doing “Scrum Light” and it has been eating away steadily at the project management, focus and effectiveness of the things I’ve been building on. I’ve been without CI forever and I put many a feature in production that proved only to break in the first field test. So let’s have a full Scrum please. With extra cream and sugar on top, I’ll have all the cherries and rather have something predictable.