Scrum is not an acronym

Scrum is a framework for Agile software development. Let’s have a look at the origins of the term ‘Scrum’. And, as a result, understand that it is not an acronym.

The term ‘Scrum’ was first used by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in their ground-breaking 1986 paper “The New New Product Development Game“. They borrowed the name from the game of rugby to stress the importance of teams in complex product development. This was about complex product development in general, not only software products. Their research showed that outstanding performance is achieved when teams are small and self-organizing units of people and when such teams are fed with objectives, not with executable tasks. Teams can only achieve greatness when given room to devise their own tactics to best head towards the shared objectives. The well-known agile development method inherited its name ‘Scrum’ from this paper as it thrives on the same principles for developing and sustaining complex software products.

Scrum as in rugby (Takeuchi-Nonaka)

The Japanese authors of the paper consider the concept that they named ‘Scrum’ as the necessary core of any system that pretends to be Lean. But they never use the term ‘Lean’ as such because it has become synonymous to an outside interpretation and copy of the management practices of the Toyota Production System. These management practices are not the core of the system. That core was named ‘Scrum’ by the authors. The management practices should be complementary to it. There can’t be Lean if the heart of it, Scrum, is overlooked, which in general is the case. The authors therefore prefer to stress the need for the heart and soul of the system and take away the sole focus on the surrounding management practices. They never talk of Lean, but always speak about Scrum.

As Scrum is no acronym, there is no reason to write “SCRUM”.

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