It is 28 years ago when the “New New Product Development Game” article was published by Takeuchi & Nonaka – the foundation for the Scrum thinking by Jeff & Ken. The principle of the article still stands strong: hand-offs between people make for a slower process than teamwork. The Agile Manifesto captured this in the first value “People & Interactions over Process & Tools”. All people in the agile world recite the manifesto and the “People over …” value, but do we all live by it.
Over the past years more and more focus was given to Scrum, often in a context of “building products better, faster, cheaper”. Most attention is given to the simple Scrum process, and discussions on the different how-to aspects, scaling the process, and the infamous ScrumButs are numerous. And good – you have to get good at a process when you want it to work in your favor.
Ten years into my agile experience I find that the process has limitations when it comes to faster-better-cheaper. But people do not – the intelligence of people will always overcome a hurdle, sometimes slowly, and always certainly. Let’s go back to the Takeuchi/Nonaka statement: bring all required skills into a team, and together they find problems and solutions early in the development process, preventing the development process from re-cycling when product issues are discovered late. Translating this to Scrum it means that the Scrum Team has to become the team. Not the development team – testers working close to coders etc. But also the Product Owner working daily with and for the developers, the Scrum Master working for the Developers and Product Owner to remove impediments, and the developers giving their best every day to help each other, to self-organize themselves out of obstacles and to always support the Product Owner in her endeavors to build the best possible product. Now that is a team, and team building will take time, can be frightening, and oh-so rewarding.