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.

Rugby (as in)

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”.

A smart travel companion to Scrum

Scrum is not a goal in itself, Scrum is a mean. Scrum is a path that a person, a team, an organization takes toward increased competitiveness, higher responsiveness, more learning, more creativity, optimistic opportunism, a sustainable way of working, restored respect for people. Scrum is a journey toward increased… agility.

I have written a book about Scrum, published on 4 November 2013.

Scrum - A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)As Scrum is designed to help people, organizations and teams embark on a journey, my book is a smart travel companion for that journey. My book is a pocket guide that can help you prepare, take off, and get going. And while on the road you can always have a quick peek again to find your way or re-orient.

My book is completely focused on Scrum. It was an explicit choice to stick to the topic, Scrum. And to be essential about that. As David Starr, Agile craftsman at Microsoft, said upon reviewing an early version, it is “without a drop of hyperbole“. Ken Schwaber, my fellow-traveller at Scrum.org and co-creator of Scrum, says it is plainly the best description of Scrum currently available. Ken has also written the foreword, summarized as “An outstanding accomplishment that simmers with intelligence.

The book has 4 chapters:

  1. The Agile paradigm. This chapter adds background and perspective to the movement that started with the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development.”
  2. Scrum. This chapter describes the roots of Scrum, the basic rules, roles and principles of the game, and the values underpinning the Scrum framework.
  3. Tactics for a purpose. This chapter introduces some common ways to play the game of Scrum. They are presented as tactics that are not formally prescriptions of the Scrum framework, not part of the rules of Scrum.
  4. The future state of Scrum. This chapter holds a look into the future and some evolutions I expect to happen.

Other appreciated reviewers were Ralph Jocham, Agile professional and Professional Scrum trainer, and Patricia Kong, director of partners at Scrum.org. Ralph says this is the book he will advise his students, coachees and organizations to read in order to learn the essential Scrum. Patricia says she would have loved to have this book when she entered the world of Scrum. Because she didn’t find one at the time.

The book, “Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)” will be published by Van Haren. My gratitude goes out to their team that has made this possible!

Pre-order your copy at Amazon (UK) or at the publisher’s webshop.