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In defence of blindly following the rules!

Those who know me well will know of my total ‘hatred’ of just blindly following rules without questioning the why, In fact I have a blog on my blog backlog titled ‘Great Agile teams break the rules!’
When coaching teams I don’t like talking about rules and must do’s but instead concentrate more on general concepts, ideas and the all-important reasons behind doing them! It’s also important for me to remember that whilst I might have many years’ experience with Agile I won’t have the experience that the team has with their own product(s) or such precise knowledge of company culture… They will be very much the experts in what will and perhaps more importantly will not work in their particular environment.
I recently worked with a company new to scrum who have by their own admission failed with the process, When looking at their implementation of Scrum I found that very few of the ceremonies or practices of Scrum were being followed…
  • I asked about Sprint planning sessions – But was told that it was too much of an overhead in time getting developers to breakdown and task work.
  • Story pointing – No… We estimate the entire project in hours
  • Velocity? – No
  • Backlog refinement – No
  • The retrospective – We don’t have time… It's too expensive!

When pushed further it had been decided that these activities were deemed unsuitable for the organisation and a waste of time…..
Now.. I have worked with some very good Scrum teams that don’t do planning sessions and don’t use story points (Google #noEstimates and take a look at Are Story Points Still Relevant) – However most of these teams started of following the rules rather rigidly – They were doing agile rather than being agile… But overtime they inspected their process’s, dropped what didn’t add value or what no longer added value…  But interestingly the company culture had been altered by being ‘forced’ to follow the ‘rules’ of scrum until they reached a point that they were able to be agile!
I was recently accused of being more interested in doing Agile then being Agile by a hiring manager looking for an Agile Coach!  Those who know me well will know I take a very pragmatic view on agile practices and that the ultimate aim is to help the business deliver value – But sometimes… You just have to blindly follow the rules so that you can get to the point you understand which rules to break!
Christian Milesscrum