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Highly-Paid Developers As ScrumMasters?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the madness-to-our-method dept.


An anonymous reader writes 'At my company, our mis-implementation of Agile includes the employment of some of our most highly-paid, principal engineers as ScrumMasters. This has effectively resulted in a loss of those engineering functions as these engineers now dedicate their time to ScrumMastery. Furthermore, the ScrumMasters either cannot or do not separate their roles as Team Leads with those of ScrumMastery and — worse — seem to be completely unaware that this poor implementation of Agile development is harmful to our velocity. To date, I have chalked this up to poor leadership, a general lack of understanding of Agile, and an inability to change from traditional roles left over from the waterfall development mode. In addition, I have contended that, for a given Scrum Team, the role of ScrumMaster should be filled by someone of lower impact, such as an intern brought in specifically for that purpose. But I would like to put the questions to Slashdotters as to whether they have seen these same transitional difficulties, what the results have been at their respective companies, or whether they just plain disagree with my assertion that principal engineers should not be relegated to the roles of ScrumMasters.'

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why use scrum in the first place (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240911)

Do without all the agile scrum diddle doo, and you'll be just fine.

you seem to be wasting your time with implementing a particular coding methodology,
instead of doing actual useful coding.

Re:why use scrum in the first place (2, Insightful)

hughbar (579555) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240971)

Yes agree...I took the taste test in a large UK organisation that does broadcasting, three web projects. First small group, boss + traditional focus, result, something quite difficult delivered in a seven week deadline,

Second two, scrum, bigger projects, lots of random pressure for features during a sprint, no documentation, extremely difficult to add anyone to team because everything was on unreadable post it notes. Result sprawling, unfocused and expensive projects.

To declare interest, I'm old enough to have suffered under waterfall and that doesn't do it in the modern world either, but bad agile is actually a lot worse because it's unmanaged and undocumented.

Re:why use scrum in the first place (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241091)

I don't disagree that scrum can end up a mess, but what you're describing is actually the exact opposite of scrum. For scrum to work, you *have* to have good documentation and good test cases/proofs. If you don't have these, you can't check that your code does what is intended, and hence you can't ever refactor.

If you have no idea what your code does and why, then you'll be too scared to go near it with a refactoring stick, or to rewrite large chunks of it. That's why you've *got* to have good methods of determining if your code is doing what it should.

Re:why use scrum in the first place (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241093)

The prison niggers appreciate those crackers doing da agile progimin. Now we know we have whitey looking after da codes we look to take white chicks up the ass. It be the best thing to run a train on a chubby low self esteem white chick, fucking her pussy and asshole all night long. It is almost as good as tapping some puerto rican ass, but that shit is tighter and when that bitch get violent (PR chicks always do) we just duct tape that mouth shut while we take turns cumming in that ass over and over. Mexican bitches be the best cause you can run up on a bitch with a fat ass in broad daylight and run a pimp train on that bitch in her anus and that immigrant husband won't do shit. When we got some gay ass niggers who want to fuck some male asshole, we just run up on a mexican man, who they gonna report. Sometimes we just abduct the bitch to our projects apartment for the week and fuck the shit out of her, until we get tired of that bitch. White bitches are more fun though, sometimes when the bitch is chubby and horny enough we just fuck her through for 2 weeks and come back in another week cause her fat ass is ready for more. Smack bitches with a 10 inch cock. I once raped this indian chick, she was mad weak, so i got my boys to run a train on her that lasted 3 days. She looked like frosty the snowman after we all got done with cumming on her. She got that shit so hard she must of spit cum for a month. I recently visted her and punched her in the face before I got inside that ass again. We be agile.

Re:why use scrum in the first place (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241203)

Ever think about getting some counselling? Help is available, but it's up to you to obtain it.

Re:why use scrum in the first place (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241115)

Keep teams small and independent with clear direction and goals. Release early, release often and of course, allow for easy peer review and contributing.

Re:why use scrum in the first place (4, Funny)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241473)

Too bad your company isn't into wrongly implementing total quality leadership or you don't have a few blackbelts to incorrectly implement LEAN. That would set you guys straight.

Hurl (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240913)

Goddamn wankfest of a post.

Re:Hurl (0, Offtopic)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241365)

I love how this is modded informative.

Re:Hurl (1)

S-4'N3 (1232394) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241415)

Agreed. This thread is nothing but an opportunity for developers to whine about the 'poor working conditions' of their jobs. Of course, that isn't going to stop me from reading it.

Re:Hurl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241367)

Goddamn wankfest of a post.

emptyquotin dis

Wrong all wrong (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240923)

Everyone does it wrong. Every single place that I've worked has done it differently and failed similarly. Agile + Scrum + Ruby seems to be an epic combination of fail.

Re:Wrong all wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241041)

Yeah. Let's give up!

Re:Wrong all wrong (5, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241265)

You probably meant that to be sarcasm, but it's actually the correct response. Let's give up on looking for silver bullets. Let's abandon the stupid idea that slavishly following the latest fashionable religion^Wmethodology is going to produce perfect code.

Instead, let's recognise the truth: development is hard, and the best programmers are orders of magnitude better than the worst. Let's employ the best, pay them decent wages, give them decent work environments, and let them get on with the goddamn job instead of forcing them to play silly mind games.

Re:Wrong all wrong (5, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241409)

instead of forcing them to play silly mind games.

That's why I like Joel's [] approach.

Re:Wrong all wrong (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241517)

Yeah, but at which point can you say the developer is not apt to do the job? How many weeks and $YOURCURRENCY can you invest into that? That's why you have to make some deadlines and checkpoints in your project (iterative or not).

Hoping for the best won't do it, as you say, it is hard and a too large share of projects don't meet the expectations.

Re:Wrong all wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241147)

There are certainly plenty of ideas in agile development that are good and useful, the problem seems to be that many people take it too seriously. Instead of using those aspects which work well for your team, too often the management decide "We must do everything exactly as this book says". A Scrum Master (really, it is a silly name) I worked with seemed to think like this as well. He was The Master and if you didn't agree with his opinion you were therefore wrong and a bad developer.

Agile needs more common sense and less elitism/arrogance. It's a toolset, not inflexible rules which will magically fix everything if followed mindlessly.

Re:Wrong all wrong (4, Interesting)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241341)

You are so right ! In my company, we use Agile since a few years.

If you try to apply the rules exactly, it's doomed to fail.
We only apply a small subset of the rules, and only very few of them seem to work:
  - pair committing (pair programming doesn't work with experienced developers)
  - stand-up meeting (10 daily minutes to explain what we need, what we will do and what has been done)
  - project planning (we give a note to all the tasks the product management assigns us)
  - assigning tasks (before, we were assigned impossible tasks to code in the given amount of time. Agile helped us reduces the amount of stress).

What doesn't work:
  - our velocity is almost zero: mostly because pair-programming is MUCH slower than one man coding
  - the bad focus: if you focus on the code quality or on Agile methods, you lose the goal which is to code faster. We have such a focus on code quality that any simple task requires days to code. It's ridiculous.
  - all the theoretical methods: if you try to apply every new method, you'll spend your time on trying them, instead of doing real work.

From my experience, Agile methods only reduce the amount of stress, since we only work on the most important features, due to the fact that the coding is super slow.
Otherwise, I don't think these methods work.

Re:Wrong all wrong (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowherd (13230) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241641)

Agile is not supposed to make you faster, though that is a common side affect, what it is supposed to do it make you aware of what you can and cannot do so that when things change you can manage that change and it sounds like that is exactly what it is doing for you.

VRDS Training (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240937)

Sounds like you need a visit from Darian Rashid of VRDS []

He does Scrum Master training and Software Design for Lean Six Sigma. He has a way of politely but firmly coaching even the most stubborn of PHBs.

Not affiliated, just a happy trainee.

Interns in critical positions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240941)

You better pay them good or that's abuse of internship.

"Restrictive agile"? (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240951)

If you are particularly tied to "Scrum" as a methodology, and want to bet your house on it, then your ScrumMaster should be someone who knows Scrum inside and out. However, if your intention is to be actually agile, rather than legalistic and restrictive, though, then it's usually good advice to put someone well-respected (eg, the team lead) in the position of holding the team to account, rather than getting an outsider just because they have the right keyword ("Scrum") on their CV -- external keyword-hiring tends to produce disenchantment as people feel that the organisation is not rewarding ability and effort (by promoting internally) but is putting a glass ceiling above them ("we're hiring from outside because you do not have experience of the next job up the tree").

Just IMHO though

WTF does this mean??? (5, Insightful)

PontifexPrimus (576159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240961)

Could we please get some explanatory links in here? This reads like a mix between a corporate nightmare ("harmful to our velocity"? SERIOUSLY?) and the rantings of an MMORPG nerd ("I was a level 72 ScrumMaster specced for Agility, but then they nerfed that and our Team Leads couldn't afford the new +5 leadership crafts, so we completely tanked at the Waterfalls of Development, even though we hired N00Bs as cannon fodder!").
Jargon, people! And don't chastise me for not RTFA - there is no FA to read!

Re:WTF does this mean??? (5, Informative)

Mathiasdm (803983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240985)

Here [] you go :-)

And yes, you are absolutely right. I couldn't entirely understand the article either.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240989)

Not to be confused with SCUMM [] .

Re:WTF does this mean??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241109)

heare heare

Re:WTF does this mean??? (2, Interesting)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241291)

Despite not understanding the article, the grandparent managed to translate it into mmorpg-speak pretty darn accurately. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I thought that was remarkable.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241587)

Then he clearly wasn't asking you. Any one who has looked at scrum at all, or taken a software engineering class, understood the question.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (3, Insightful)

slaker (53818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241095)

I recognized words that have meaning in English, but the person asking the question clearly had no intention or ability to combine those words into any language spoken by human beings.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241403)

I wasn't even sure "Scrum" was a real English word. Turns out it's some kind of sports metaphor for some sport we don't play around here.
If I ever make a programming methodology fad, I'll name it broomstacking, and the leaders will be called drawmasters. Or maybe malletheads and flagmen.

(Disclosure: We use Scrum where I work. It's buzzwordiness is groan-worthy, but in practice it's mostly good common sense. It's also true what the article says, that there's little reason for using your most experienced developers as ... let's just call them schedule handlers.)

Re:WTF does this mean??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241125)

You can still get the gist of the article: everybody is doin' it wrong but me; also, I whine a lot and love bullshit bingo.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241245)

I'm glad i wasn't the only one out of the loop.

ScrumMaster?? Seriously??
Well actually... Webmaster... and Webmaster + MMO gives a whole new outlook on managing a website.

"hey guys, i just managed a UDP DDoS" [Level up!]
"Uh oh, FBI raided my servers" [Chr +- 5 ]

Simple Explanation (0, Offtopic)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241283)

It means that the real problem is nothing to do with Agile ScrumMasters(TM) leading their teams over developing waterfalls and all to do with that fact that their management's leadership abilities are clearly only exceeded by their communication skills.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (5, Funny)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241347)

Could we please get some explanatory links in here?

While this is not my area of expertise, I think I can explain. His team leaders/scrotum masters are poor leaders. They don't seem to understand flexibility. He on the other hand, he thinks he understands flexibility. And he wants an intern to be the scrotum master.

The only part that I find confusing is that interns are usually the slaves, not the masters. Somehow, this guy thinks that a new slave can suddenly become a master just like that. That, I don't think so. So I'm either misunderstanding something, or this guy is missing the bigger picture. The issue that the team lead is overburdened is probably a very real problem, that I don't doubt. But it seems to me, this anonymous poster would just be trading one problem for another. An intern doesn't have the experience. An intern doesn't have the authority. One might as very well leave the scrotum alone if there is no one there that can handle it.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241439)

The only part that I find confusing is that interns are usually the slaves, not the masters. Somehow, this guy thinks that a new slave can suddenly become a master just like that.

Well put!

Re:WTF does this mean??? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241425)

Could we please get some explanatory links in here?

Slashdot has been trolled.
In fact, the whole article is written in gay BSDM porn jargon and has nothing to do with computers or programming.
If you want to know what a ScrumMaster is: imagine a half-naked fat hairy guy in black leather with studs. I don't want to go into the details on "interns", "Agile", "principal engineers" and worst of all "waterfall development mode". Really, goatse is like a meadow of beautiful flowers compared to this.

Re:WTF does this mean??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241457)


You're thinking too high level (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240969)

"... this poor implementation of Agile development is harmful to our velocity."

Roles are delineated areas of responsibility and it is everyone's responsibility to see those roles performed. If the work doesn't get done, everyone is to blame. If some team members are overworked, that will harm productivity and the rest of the team members should pitch in or suggest improvements. What is killing your velocity is the evident blame culture that you have.

Try before you buy? (4, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240977)

I wish I could try this scrum in a safe environment, I need some sort of ScrumVM.

You're missing the problem (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240979)

A scrum master is not a manager. He's only mean to organise a handful of meetings and deal with impediments. These should not take any significant time.

Re:You're missing the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241327)

> A scrum master is not a manager. He's only mean to organise a handful of meetings and deal with impediments. These should not take any significant time.

What do they do if the time they spend on meetings is itself the impediment? Are they authorized to dispense with this SCRUMM nonsense and do actual work?

Re:You're missing the problem (2, Informative)

Delkster (820935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241487)

No, just like GP said, a scrum master isn't a manager. Of course he can't decide to change the methodology since he isn't a leader with authority to make decisions like that. (Most likely questions like that aren't in the hands of the team either.)

If a scrum team is spending significant time in meetings because of "scrum", you aren't doing it properly. The daily meetings shouldn't take more than ~15 mins each. Yeah, it's easy to go over that if you start talking all kinds of unnecessary stuff in the meetings instead of being to the point, but it's part of the scrum master's responsibilities to take care that it doesn't happen.

Re:You're missing the problem (2, Insightful)

FroMan (111520) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241445)

This here is the problem.

The scrummaster (who should have learned this in his training) is a team member who's job is to organize the meetings and help "enforce" scrum practices. The scrummaster is not the product owner who sets direction for the team. The scrummaster is just another developer on the team.

In our implementation of scrum the scrummaster's only real job is the setup the meeting announcements. He is also usually the first one to reign us in during standup to keep the meeting to keep it short, though any of the team can mention to take it offline after the standup. Similarly with the planning, review, and retrospective meetings he'll usually be the first to remind everyone of the purpose of the meeting, but anyone on the team can do that.

In my view a scrummaster is only needed to get a scrum team started up to keep things on track instead of letting everything degrade into chaos. After an scrum team is up and running and into a good groove any member of the team can help provide scrummaster-ish direction.

question? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240991)

Sorry what was the question: if we have taken note of the opinion you've just explicated so thoroughly?

Re:question? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241081)

The question is adequatly summed up as "amirite?"

Yes, use experts as scrum masters (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241005)

Based on my 12+ years in the field and from reading the description of Scrum at wikipedia just now, I conclude that the top people should be the scrum masters, because if you bring in someone inexperienced to be a scrum master (i.e. a project manager), all your projects will go to pot.

However, I wonder if you know that scrum basically looks like a pretty framework on top of the lowest level of Capability Maturity. I would recommend seriously reconsidering whether getting a better pipeline of events and allowing work to stretch past 'daily scrums' would be better.

Re:Yes, use experts as scrum masters (3, Funny)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241399)

Well done, you've just managed to be even more confusing than the original article.

Re:Yes, use experts as scrum masters (4, Insightful)

Delkster (820935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241557)

I conclude that the top people should be the scrum masters, because if you bring in someone inexperienced to be a scrum master (i.e. a project manager), all your projects will go to pot.

I agree that a scrum master should have experience of project work, but he doesn't necessarily need to be a top developer. Also, a scrum master isn't technically just another name for a project manager. A scrum master doesn't make decisions; he's basically someone who makes sure that the team doesn't have to waste their time on unnecessary problems ("impediments") and that the whole thing doesn't break down into chaos.

Can't do your testing because of some network problem? Or you aren't exactly sure about a detail of the requirements? Bring that up in the scrum meeting and the scrum master should solve your problem so you don't have to interrupt your work because the scrum master will run the errand for you.

Did a meeting break down into an argument between two team members about an implementation detail? It's the scrum master's job to intervene and get the issue solved between the two rather than needlessly waste everyone's time in the meeting.

Got a design issue and you have to decide which approach to take? That's not up for the scrum master to decide. The decision should be made by team concensus, or if they don't have the expertise to decide, get help from an actual manager or expert from outside of the team (architect, or what you have).

I would recommend seriously reconsidering whether getting a better pipeline of events and allowing work to stretch past 'daily scrums' would be better.

I don't know exactly what you mean to say, but I think you've misunderstood something. A daily scrum is more of a status meeting. It doesn't mean that you have to switch tasks as a result of each meeting, though it would be good to have tasks divided into small enough chunks that you can usually complete them within a day or two.

DTFT! (Define That Fucking Term!) (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241033)

Seriously, somebody add some wiki-links to the story posted here... Those of us that code for a living as contractors / corporate drones have little to no idea what the fuck you are talking about.

Guessing by context, I'd say that having your best coders become code-overlords who don't actually write code anymore is a bad idea.

Finding someone with people skills and management experience and appointing them as co-director of a project, with an uber-coder as his fellow co-director, is the way to go. Let the management guy handle HR and BS from the higher ups, and let the uber-coder handle developing the junior coders and explaining shit to the management guy. Just pay them the same.

Re:DTFT! (Define That Fucking Term!) (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241539)

Seriously, somebody add some wiki-links

This is not a wiki.

Re:DTFT! (Define That Fucking Term!) (1)

iamflimflam1 (1369141) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241601)

Seriously, you code for a living and have never heard of scrum? Do you not keep up with the latest fashion in development? What will you do when you if you have to go for another job and the interviewer asks you about the latest development methodology that is doing the rounds?

Velociraptors (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241047)

"harmful to our velocity"

WTF is that supposed to mean? You're losing money, and you wish to lose money more rapidly? Or, you're not coding fast enough?

Sounds like one of those buzzwords. Did you buy that from the vendor, as well?

Re:Velociraptors (4, Insightful)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241295)

"harmful to our velocity"

WTF is that supposed to mean?

It's a scrum term; velocity is how much work a team can handle in a sprint (short development period to accomplish a particular goal or series of goals) - harmful to our velocity in scrum terms means - "we're not getting as much done as we would like".

To answer the original posters query; I've worked with scrum, and it sucks. It only works if people work together, are largely self-organising, and don't deliberately chuck roadblocks into other teams paths to get them off their own joblist. Oh, and if management can largely get out of the way and not constantly interfere with the process, i.e. unilaterally adding stuff to the burn-down chart in the middle of a sprint!

The scrummaster is more of a phb role than a senior engineer role; they basically need to have enough weight to stave off senior management interferance, moderate customer input, and have enough authority to crack the whip to developers who are slacking off. Definitely not an intern role. Whoever is the manager of your dev team, the manager who's on the next rung above your senior engineer are the ones who should be scrummaster; the ones that want status reports, talk to customers, and run interference between senior management desires and what your team can actually deliver; not your chief coder, certainly.

Re:Velociraptors (1)

Delkster (820935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241613)

I've worked with scrum, and it sucks. It only works if people work together, are largely self-organising, and don't deliberately chuck roadblocks into other teams paths to get them off their own joblist.

I believe the latter of those in particular gives away pretty bad organizational problems, scrum or no. They would probably manifest themselves just in a different way if you tried to do things different on the surface.

Oh, and if management can largely get out of the way and not constantly interfere with the process, i.e. unilaterally adding stuff to the burn-down chart in the middle of a sprint!

Yeah, that can be a problem. The thing is, scrum isn't a magic incantation that will make your projects and teams work just by uttering it. You actually have to do it more or less properly for it to work. Your organization clearly isn't scrum-compatible if management is coming and adding stuff into your sprint backlog; so, if you can't or don't want to change that, don't use scrum.

If management insists on doing "scrum" but actually acts contrary to it, the management doesn't appear to understand what they're doing. Again, that'd probably cause icky problems, scrum or not.

I'm not really a scrum believer but have seen a few scrum projects, some of them better done, some of them worse, none of them really done properly as scrum, so I know how much it can suck if it isn't done right. I agree that the whole thing is somewhat loaded with buzzwords. But the better the organization and the team has actually adhered to the methods, the better it has worked.

Re:Velociraptors (4, Informative)

teg (97890) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241477)

"harmful to our velocity" WTF is that supposed to mean?

In Scrum, tasks/stories are estimated using a common metric (e.g. story points, hours, days). Velocity is the rate at which the team do these - e.g. "20 story points/day". If you're into Earned Value Management [] , you could see it as the rate at which EV increases. You can find an interesting paper about it here [] .

The problem for the original poster is that they just jumped onto a buzzword not really knowing what it is, and not utilizing it properly. There are no silver bullets. If the project is organized in a way that means the scrum master is doing project management, they need a real project manager - and definitely not an intern with little authority. That way lies disaster. If one of the senior developers want to change into project management and is doing it well, good - but then he is not a developer anymore, and should not be counted as a resource.

"Our mis-implementation of Agile includes.." (5, Funny)

IainMH (176964) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241069)

"Our mis-implementation of Agile includes.." a pretty good idea for a ThinkGeek t-shirt.

Re:"Our mis-implementation of Agile includes.." (2, Funny)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241281)

"... Lotus Notes and a machine gun. It is the finest available."

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.

Re:"Our mis-implementation of Agile includes.." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241519)

This *has* to relate to Lean and Six-Sigma somehow, right?

Uhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241087)

I'm pretty sure I work with you, lunch was great on Wednesday.

scrum, isn't that a rugby term? (2, Funny)

kamakazi (74641) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241099)

For all the players putting their arms around eachother and kicking everyone else in the shins. At least that sounds like what the poster was talking about.

Re:scrum, isn't that a rugby term? (1)

the ReviveR (1106541) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241161)

I just read the post and realized how sad it is that I understood that completely.

...and yes the name of the scrum development model comes from rugby.

Re:scrum, isn't that a rugby term? (1)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241471)

Yep, and bite each other's ears, punch each other's noses, etc..

(Also, I hope whoever modded you troll gets punished in m2).

Yikes (3, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241141)

"...seem to be completely unaware that this poor implementation of Agile development is harmful to our velocity"

Oh, for fucks sake...

I'll say this once:
Chop the little pointy horns of hair growing out of the side of your head, and get the fuck back to writing code, you stupid monkey.

Re:Yikes (5, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241353)

I think Warren Buffet said it best when he said "if you can't explain it in simple terms, you don't understand it". He said "young kids" (he's 80+, so who knows what he considers a young kid) come in pitching ideas using the fanciest of terms but when he asks for clarification, he can't get it, because they don't understand the fundamentals. And though it was a major pain in the ass, working at a helpdesk for a year taught me a lot because you NEED to distill things down to their core components and strip away all the crap. Stripping away crap == understanding fundamentals == true understanding. When you have a fundamental understanding, then you can add the bells and whistles

Honestly, it sounds to me like OP hiding behind lingo without actually understanding what's really going on. Yeah, he's saying something (and I understand it, I guess) but he's got so much crap, perhaps he can't see the forest from the trees.

PS. Scrum == worst. methodology. name. ever

Re:Yikes (1, Insightful)

themightythor (673485) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241635)

PS. Scrum == worst. methodology. name. ever

I respectfully have to disagree with you. My vote is with "Extreme Programming". Here's an idea: let's market it like we market Mountain fucking's extreme.

!rugby (5, Funny)

IRoll11!s (1609859) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241167)

funniest tag on a post ever

View from the Dark Side (2, Informative)

Phloebas (1621967) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241179)

I do projects assurance work for a small development company. We have some very well-paid, highly skilled and extremely experienced developers, who occasionally are made Team Leads. This means they have to do project governance. We use PRINCE2, which is far less-suited to software development, and there is a definite problem going on here.

It immediately cuts the time these developers can spend doing actual project work - something they grouse about constantly. On the other hand, we also have an army of young first- or second-year analysts, all of whom embrace our governance, and generally perform the project administration side of things far better than their more-experienced colleagues.

On the other other hand, I have noticed that the younger consultants lack the project experience to plan creatively and come up with ways to make the process work for them. They would if they could, while the older ones can but couldn't be asked. I fear that over time the negative attitude towards governance that lingers from the older generation will infect the new guys.

Our company recruits annually, and is always running a number of internal projects. What I advocate is that the new consultants spend a while running small internal initiatives during part of their time, and then spend their second year as the administrators on client projects, before being able to "earn" not having to worry so much about all the extra overhead that comes with that sort of thing. It might also help with retaining experienced staff.

Clearly a targetted post: (5, Informative)

BluePojo (1627419) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241183)

If you work on an agile dev team, this post uses every day language. (yeah, velocity is not an unusual word when referring to backlog burndown rate :D) If you're just an enthusiast or work in IT, this post is crazy off the wall nuts.

At any rate, to respond to the post:

The best method of handling who is the scrum master I have encountered is by not giving the job to one single person. A rotation every 4 sprints seems to work well (we do 2 week sprints), as it spreads the load of scrum master around and it keeps us from getting into a rut when doing sprint planning and retrospectives, as a different person is running it every 2 months. You're right that giving your strongest developer the task of scrum master is asking to have your strongest developer not code as much, but if you have your intern running scrum, you may find that lack of understanding of prioritization will impact your velocity quite a lot more than giving extra work to your lead.

One additional thing to note is how efficient you are in scrum master tasks... if you're hand writing stickies to put on the scrum board, you're probably wasting time. Any half decent script monkey should be able to write a script to parse your backlog and generate stickies for you. :)

Re:Clearly a targetted post: (1)

BluePojo (1627419) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241211)

Additionally, why is ScrumMaster one word...?

Re:Clearly a targetted post: (1)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241607)

CamelCase is cool, it's an ExtremeProgramming thingy..

Re:Clearly a targetted post: (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241611)

Bingo, sir. []

Embrace the modern religion! (1)

JeffHome (771206) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241197)

>> A scrum master is not a manager. He's only mean to organise a handful of meetings and deal with impediments. These should not take any significant time.


The Scrum Master does indeed manage impediments to the projects. They act as a "shit umbrella" - protecting the team from all external influences that are deemed detrimental to actually doing the job. They "keep a finger on the pulse" of the team - identifying problems (sometimes between individuals, sometimes with individuals, sometimes with external 3rd parties interfering). They are there to allow the team to develop the software they are employed to do... in a pleasant environment (that doesn't include phones ringing all the time, doesn't include constant multi-tasking, and doesn't include managers walking up and asking dumb questions every 2 minutes).


I disagree with a previous poster that the "top people" should be Scrum Masters. Whilst the role must have someone with a strong personality and understanding of the business relationships between the project and the rest of the organisation (in a large corporate at least), they do not need to have any "hands-on" technical ability (or involvement). For similar reasons, an intern is probably not a good solution as Scrum Master either. So-called "soft" skills are more important here.


The Scrum Master role is as facilitator - and to help "keep the team honest" with respect to Agile principles and process (regardless of what flavour your organisation has chosen to attempt).


I've been working in Agile teams now for 4+ years - seen good and bad implementation... had lots of success - and some failures (don't we all). Agile tends to work with enthusiastic, smart, intelligent and "bright" people. It doesn't do so well if the people are dumb, unfocussed or demotivated. The Scrum Master role includes identifying these people and either working with them to "lift their game" - or works with HR to get them out of the team.


I would object strongly if the Scrum Master role was not a full time position, and if they were wanting to act as some kind of technical team lead. Let developers do the development... let people who understand the technology stack make those recommendations... but don't confuse the roles :)

Agile (5, Insightful)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241201)

In my opinion, Agile is a great tool for managers, not developers.
Every manager in the end wants to ask for status reports every day.
But they can't do so, because people working for them will be upset.
Agile is an excellent way for Managers to ask for status reports

In my opinion, TDD (test driven developement) is the only good thing
about Agile.

Here is Scott Adams about Agile. [] []

What the hell? (4, Funny)

Godji (957148) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241209)

What the fuck is a ScrumMaster? What the fuck is this person asking? Seriously, how did this get in my RSS reader?

Re:What the hell? (0, Offtopic)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241263)

Jeez, I could respond to all kinds of /. posts in this way.

This is news for nerds. You might reasonably be expected to know what Scrum is - or at least how to find out.

The alternatives are worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241219)

I am our tech lead as well as ScrumMaster. All our non-programmers are *clueless* and think that "scrum" means "complex and involved tools and processes to micromanage workloads on an hourly basis". The other project our department does, for which I am not ScrumMaster has 2 hour 'scrums' each day. Not that I actually know what I'm doing, but I know how to clock 15 minutes and I know how to build build software.

The other team (i.e. my manager) truly doesn't 'get it' -- for me to not dedicate a few hours to running to the process would lead to hellish meetings-all-day and a huge drop in productivity.

PS I need a new job :(

Re:The alternatives are worse (1)

Delkster (820935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241647)

PS I need a new job :(

Sounds like that, unfortunately.

Scrum where management doesn't actually understand a thing about scrum just won't work, at least without sacrificing your sanity -- and the pattern seems to be unfortunately common. (Not based on experience but on stories heard.)

Ghostbusters (0, Offtopic)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241229)

Pretty funny. /. should have a humor section. Is this ScumMaster something like the Keymaster?

Does no one just develop anymore? (1)

germ!nation (764234) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241273)

We use scrums and things at work purely so no 1 developer is lumped with a task called "build this e-learning course" and then waste a few days trying to figure out where to start and generally sink. We implement it poorly and it works great for us.

But honestly, does no one just like write code and get on with things anymore? The overlap of academic programming theory and just everyday programming roles in business (facilitated by t'internet) goes way too far, to the point where I know developers who spend so much time on their patterns, lose coupling and complaining about how things arent "properly" agile that they end up doing most of a day cocking around and then have to do 3 hours overtime just to do their days work.

People need to just breath in a lung-full of stfu and go back to just working and getting things done.

if it invents vocabulary, you know to avoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241279)

scrum ~~ might as well call it shit

Harmful to my sanity (1)

dgr73 (1055610) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241299)

Why is it that every few years some dildo comes along and takes ages old best practices, gives them snazzy "marketable" names and calls it a great new method. Then everyone has to go to school to "learn" this new method of doing things, because your a-hole of a manager is so completely enthralled by the marketing buzz that he doesn't listen to you when you tell him that "I know this shit already".

If it was up to me, I'd shove each and every method creator downrange of a shooting gallery just to test how Agile they were.

Re:Harmful to my sanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241561)

You even use the word "method" instead of "methology". Wow. I bow in the presence of a master.

go4t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241301)

It has to be fucn before playing tgo Discussion I'm

New terminology for common sense process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241311)

Good Wikipedia article on "scrum."

I worked on projects 30 years ago that ran under those principles.

We didn't use those terms -- and we didn't denigrate customers by calling them "chickens."

We called the incremental daily accomplishments "inch-rocks"

What the Fuck is This Shit? (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241325)

How about determining what you need to accomplish, figuring out what bits need to be done to make that happen, have people do those bits, and WRITE SOME CODE?

Playing rugby is even worse than playing WoW - at least with WoW you have computers that work.

2 Questions (0, Troll)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241355)

1) what is Agile??

2) Who is a Scrummaster??

sounds like a player in a game like DoTA or WoW etc.

You're Fired! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241395)

HR will meet you in the lobby Monday. Bring a box for your personal effects.

Long standing agile developer (4, Interesting)

intranation (1533093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241417)

Seems to me there are a few issues here:

  • The team leads as scrum masters is a conflict of interest. Managers should never be scrum masters, as often scrum masters need to go against management in order to get the team through blockers. Additionally, they can put undue ("you report to me") pressure on team members during scrum. That balance needs to be maintained;
  • Scrum masters, if picked from the development team, should be rotated to avoid keeping people out of the loop; but
  • Ideally they should be someone who is from a project management background. If you're doing agile a lot you'll want a dedicated scrum master. I never really bought into the idea that developers should be scrum mastersâ"they should just be trained in the right skills so they know how it works, but their core skills are unlikely to be organising people.

If your company is "doing it right" you can raise these issues in the retrospective and hope they get picked up. If they're not doing or respecting retrospectives then they're doing it wrong, and all bets are off.

Re:Long standing agile developer (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241475)

they're doing it wrong, and all bets are off

He admitted to that in the story. Why he expects to be able to fix it by rearranging a few people is beyond me.

If your fail is getting hit by a train while skateboarding on train tracks, changing your olly technique is not going to solve the problem.

Pitty the poster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241429)

This poster is so immersed in the corporate buzz word dropping and work process double-speak that he/she honestly believes that the whole of society is actually in the same mindset. Therefore posting this gibberish to a public forum and expecting a meaningful answer. Seek therapy.

Overhead (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241431)

What is your scrum master up to?

I thought their over head is only meant to be 10-20%. With our team they arranging meetings, keep a bit of order, and report and handle obstacles but that is about it. Plenty of time to carry on programing.

We experimented at first with managers as scrum masters but there were problems with conflict of interests. Now someone in the team does it.


Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241453)

SCRUM is one of those "methodologies" that just adds cute buzzwords to activities that everyone does anyway. After looking at the Wiki entry, I just saw things that development organizations do naturally.

It's the same for "Extreme" programming or anything else. How many times have you read one of the "methodologies" or have had gone to classes only find out they're teaching something that you've done before just because it made sense at the time. A few times another coder sat down with me and we put together some things (late 80s). We didn't go around trying to brand it as some sort of "break through" methodology. The years later, I see that someone had to call it "extreme" programming or something - whatever. These buzzwords and "methodologies" are getting ridiculous.

Losing velocity? Keep up wasting your time on this shit and you'll experience negative acceleration when your company starts to lose money and cans your ass. You'll come to what I termed as "OH FUCK". The "OH FUCK" methodology happens when you suddenly lose you job and you panic trying to find a new one.

When you cut through all the gibberish (5, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241483)

You've got a development team. The senior members have been promoted to team leaders.

No matter how you want to spin this, or wrap it up with neologisms, it's the same old stuff, with the same old problems and (it seems) the same old organisation - just with different names. In the end you (or your team / scrum call it what you will) still has ti turn out a product. Those who help get the praise, those who hinder get the promotions :-(

Just like every development methodology before it - and no doubt, the ones to come - if you have talented people, they'll get the work done. If you have indolent people, no techniques: agile or not, will help you. Stop worrying about scrums, roles and all that malarkey - get on with the job of developing your product.

Everyone in a company has problems to overcome. How you deal with them is the olny measure of your worth.

Scrum? (1)

Porchroof (726270) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241521)

Maybe I could understand the question if you told me what "scrum" means.

rapid iterative development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241531)

I'll take the "velocity" comment to mean your productivity in a given sprint cycle.

It sounds like you're biting off too much for your given iterations. What's at the core of the challenges you're running into? Communication? Complexity of the agreed upon tasks or inability to break it down into manageable chunks? Inability to reach design consensus? Developers grossly underestimating their task completion times? Clear task list but developers standing around doing nothing? Developers waiting for a concise idea of what to do?

Find a general software PM to be the scrummaster; someone who can keep the meetings on schedule, keep people focused on the purpose of the meetings and someone who doesn't mind being a go-to person for communication. A attention to detail and some leadership qualities won't hurt. They should feel comfortable talking to any of the stakeholders and are really just meant to make sure everyone is following the methodology and that everyone has what they need to get their task completed. Avoid putting key development resources in that role as their development time is too important. Don't implement a methodology out of the blue, make sure you seed the staff with enough people experienced with the process who can guide / mentor the rest of the team successfully.

Keep in mind that short, limited development cycles with clear goals and mitigated scope creep is what you're shooting for. This is usually easiest to implement on a product in maintenance mode. For new products or significant product changes, you're still going to need strong technical leads / architects to help shape larger platform or technology choices and break down the complexity into manageable parts. Design cycles will seem to take longer than the coding cycles.

Scrum relies a bit heavily on teamwork and collaboration, often with competent self-motivated developers excited to take on new tasks and crank stuff out. You'll need a way to resolve design disputes (lead or architect). If you have a clear set of goals for that iteration cycle, but a bunch of people standing around doing nothing, then take a step back and openly ask the group what they need to move forward. You may have a group dynamic issue, lack of experienced developers, unresolved design choices or possibly a hostile development environment not conducive to self-motivation or collaboration. Get that shit out on the table and address it early.

It takes practice for the whole team to change development methodologies. Keep things simple and focused. When first starting out, take small bites and just get the process working through a couple short cycles, then expand it and shoot for a healthy pace (people shouldn't be standing around, but they shouldn't be working overtime either). You rely on your team to be self-motivated, so don't destroy that by cramming things down their throat. Get them involved in the process so they have a stake in the responsibility and outcome of the product. Look for things like unbalanced workload / contribution, the team and it's function as a whole is your lifeblood.

The team decides their pace based on what they think they can get accomplished. Management teams tend to be more comfortable with a top-down approach which - depending on how it's implemented - may clash with the methodology you're trying to implement. Keep the pigs separated from the chicken and DO NOT let your salespeople dictate time-based deliverables.

ScrumMaster? Isn't that an official WankWord? (1)

Otis_INF (130595) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241547)

ref: []

I think you and your team should start focusing on developing software for the client you have to write the software for, i.o.w. back to square 1 of Software Engineering. You and your team seem to have moved yourselves into an organizational mess which takes more time to manage than the actual software development.

Mind you, your client doesn't give a hoot HOW you created the software, which language it is written in, or that you eat 1001 bags of blue M&Ms during the making, all they care about is if the software does what they need it to do. So you should go write that software, how is up to you, but if that 'how' process is actually taking more time and energy than the software itself, you should perhaps abandone that process you called 'agile' and go back to Common Sense Software Engineering principles, like defining what functionality should be implemented and actually DO that.

Stacked slang (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241569)

I had to do deeper background research just to read the article and have it make any sense.

My flash impression was that Agile and Scrum were products of some sort and I was also a bit confused by the name as I have no real knowledge of rugby and never had any familiarity with the term before now. Some googling led me to some references that explained a lot of things but left more questions... "pigs"? Why? "Because their bacon is on the line!" What the hell?! "Bacon" meaning what? Their asses? Why can't people simply say what they mean? Are they so bored with their language that they have to play such games? Learn a foreign language for god's sake! Stop twisting and convoluting a standard and common language to the point that outsiders can't know what is being discussed. A little slang here and there can be forgiven as context typically lends and hand in assisting people to understand what is meant. But slang upon slang mixed with highly regional sports terminology? I suspect if American football terms were used instead, it would be perfectly understandable for people like me, but to the rest of the world would be just as meaningless and confusing.

The process itself is confusing as it departs from natural hierarchical management structures that have existed throughout the history of animal behavior and asserts the notion of a team sport, which is well known for its danger and potential for injury. I'm beginning to see why more modern software is buggier than older software. With so much focus on "completion" over careful engineering, a lot of details get missed along the way. I wonder if the people who support these methods would feel okay if their next car was patched together using bailing wire and duct tape?

Buzzword Bingo (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241625)

Dagnabit, all I needed was "will implement in the cloud" for Bingo.

Oh, for fckn, sake... (5, Insightful)

KZigurs (638781) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241637)

Forget all about agile, forget all about scrum and forget all about management. The only places where I have seen some good code actually being written are the places where there were no 'process', there were no 'evangelists' and it was absolutely normal for managers and devs to swap roles in who is managing who - naturally.
No process will improve on a (welcomed) shout across the room and reply coming back in 5 seconds.

For those who AREN'T DEVELOPERS!!!! (1)

turtle2k (1627465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29241643)

SCRUM = Short Conscise Repeatable Uniform Meeting It is designed so everyone on the team can say what they accomplished yesterday, what they plan on accomplishing today and what their current blocks are. It s meant to last only 15 minutes for a small team (dont have large team scrums... it wastes people times) and is an extremely handy tool for working with a small team daily. ScrumMaster is the person who simply facilitates the meeting and enforces the meeting rules. I have seen alot of negative comments towards the original poster... I happen to agree with him. Most companies get it wrong. Why? Methodologies are only as good as the people who implement them. No we do not need highly paid developers leading a scrum meeting... Lets face it, most developers have big egos and believe they out of the rest of the world have been enlightened. They see it as a display of their power to run a scrum meeting that probably isn't even a real one just to prove to themselves that their intelligence actually means something to someone. Find another way to feel good. People have work to do. Ok, to all the posters above that said "wank" or gibberish, etc. You simply shouldn't have posted to a thread you know nothing about... Scrum Master is not a word. Its 2. See thats part of the problem... some dev branded it as a compound word. Its 2 words I promise... Now everyone wants to be one.. :D
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