Scrum made us live better in a place where constant change was the only constant.
I worked for a very very large company in the ICT domain, and while it was not considered to be an AGILE shop, as a VAS team we operated solely in that framework for 7 years.
First of all – let me say that it was a successful marriage. Scrum is good for developing products for a Telco, where anything changes anytime…
Secondly it was successful since it worked with people for the people. If your team is of the right mindset you lose all those negative things that make a work place an unhappy one – stress is there but managed. The process made us human again, giving us chance to fix things that are breakable, developing skills that matter for people and foremost – appreciated, at the end of each sprint. Team felt the responsibility for the team as a one!
The system worked because it gave everyone what they needed, Autonomy for product developers, mastery over the product’s road map for PO and etc. Also, Scrum developed excellent team working skills since it forced the team to fail at early phases – and that is good as we know and yet enabled us to re-start fast or maybe – if the conditions warranted it – withdraw from project completely, trust me we have done it more than once.
For the company it pressured the organisation to pick only one decision maker for what is to be done/not done and changed and therefore getting rid of the multi-headed project management style previously. It made us to decide with clarity and certainty what will be done in the next 2 weeks ( ie the sprint) and what comes after. This gave the organisation the ability to choose, change or even completely change the direction for the backlog. But probably the most important thing that comes to my mind is that Scrum doesn’t require and even bans planning all the details of the work upfront. It valued only productive work something we had a lot of before this became our way of life.
We also liked Scrum since it doesn’t penalize the development teams for not being clairvoyant about the remaining amount of work – we all miss a turning right ? – similarly it also gave the business owners a second chances card for not guessing the scope of work correctly in the first time ( and we all know that they use that several times).
On the other, let me bring some memories from the “Waterfall” it replaced. For us this was a model in which each tier of the organizational hierarchy choose what they consider to be “valuable to my career part”, and passes the rest down the line. Most of the time I have seen product projects defined by executives with little idea about what they squirting from their mouth about something they have no idea about, the design being done by sales people, personal deadlines were set by middle managers who wish to go on a holiday. Most of the time some sort of basic implementation was performed by the top-tier “brogrammers” and then the remainder such as operations and testing are handed off to the lower grade programmers. Yes it was that bad… It is a known fact that if people have a sense that all of the important decisions have been made and they are not part of the decision, they will not be motivated to do their best.
Don’t get me wrong I am not a Scrum fan boy, but it worked, it helped to save lives, and well for us the other alternative was pure pain.