Why dwell on the basics of Scrum?

Sometimes I am asked, why do you dwell on the basics of Scrum in your CSM class.

A couple of obvious answers, although not the most important:

  • there are beginners in most classes
  • Scrum Alliance expects me to cover the basics
  • while the students read the Scrum Guide (often) before the class, they do not understand it or remember it well.  Often.
  • the CSM course is the main course for most people where we DO cover the basics. (There are other courses.)

Is there more to say about Scrum (or even love) than can be covered in two days?  ABSOLUTELY!  To cover Agile-Scrum even in summary to me would take 5 days.  But that is too long.  Most adults can learn 15 times more stuff in 2 days than they could ever take action on in the next 6 months.  So 2 days (well, I think 3 days) is enough for the FIRST course.

Here are two more fundamental reasons:

  • there are now “out there” a thousand WRONG examples of how to do agile and Scrum
  • real success almost always is based on doing very basic things very well

The Bad Examples

There are indeed a few (percentage wise) examples of … we have different names for it:

  • pretty good scrum
  • Aggressive Scrum (Jeff Sutherland’s preferred term)
  • Successful Scrum
  • Hyper-productive Scrum
  • Scrum where the participants are truly deeply madly happy with it (Cf Alan Rickman…a great actor, if you ask me…apologies to that movie)

There are other names too.

And I tease a bit about how happy the team is (I am from New England to a large degree, and we like to keep a stiff upper lip….too much happiness definitely feels a bit suspicuous).  But, really, a team that is truly happy is usually delivering wonderful stuff (over time) to their customers. This is indeed a wonderful thing.


Honestly, the are lots more examples of…we’ll be kind and call it…”not very good Scrum yet”.

Apparently, out in the world, mis–understanding and stupidity are rampant. And there are so many reasons why.

So, most of you need to be armed against all the stupid ideas (not saying the people are really stupid, but the ideas are, once you understand enough)…all the stupid ideas about agile and scrum.

As one example, most any agile trainer can easily put together a list of 10 favorite myths about agile.

So, we go through the basics carefully to prepare you to defend the team (and others) from the rampant stupidity.

Blocking and Tackling

When I was a kid I grew up watching football with my family (especially my father and brother).  The saying was: the difference is usually in the basics of blocking and tackling.  Very basic stuff in football.

And I see that that this true in agile and scrum as well.

So, I cover the basics carefully (really, too short given the time constraints) so that you have a better chance for success.


Maybe one thing more worth saying now.  If they are not doing the basics, at least one of two reasons usually are true.  No one taught them the basics (correctly) [alternate version: they did not listen at the time it was taught.  Well enough.]  Or, they do not understand WHY the basics, or a particular thing, is important or useful or necessary.  The first one is kind of obvious, although in reallife hard to spot sometimes if you do not watch very carefully.  The second one is even harder, usually. And they are smart enough to give a seemingly plausible excuse why they are not doing some basic thing now.

It takes a strong-minded, observant ScrumMaster to help them become the great time they can be.  Many a talented football player never graet because they did not want to put in the time practicing the basics.  (I can hear a thousand football and basketball coaches saying “Amen brother!” right now.)



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