TMCnet Feature
August 31, 2021

History of Scrum

In the following article, we will be talking about ‘Scrum.’ Scrum is one of the more popular Agile (News - Alert) frameworks used by many developers and other businesses. Originally introduced as a software development framework, Agile is finding its feet in product development in general. So, what is Agile and what is Scrum? We will hopefully answer those questions for you in the following brief piece, so let’s start with an explanation of Scrum itself. 

What is Scrum?

Before we begin, we’d like to point in the direction of this excellent example of Scrum education which follows more detail than we have space for, so when you get a moment, please look at that.

Now, what is Scrum? The best way to describe Scrum is that it is a framework and not a process. It involves a team working together to achieve a goal, but in a much looser form than a team, you would expect to see in a traditional business. 

Scrum – as with all Agile frameworks – self-organization. The traditional office management hierarchy is eliminated to a certain extent. As we shall see later on, while this is a benefit in Scrum, it is also one of the major problems with its implementation. Scrum involves a team working on a project and constantly reflecting on mistakes and progress.

It is designed to ensure the team learns and gains through their successes and failures at all levels and develop as they do. It is a popular framework in software development and all product development routines.

Scrum allows for better turnaround and delivery times, greater customer satisfaction, and a more enjoyable and productive corporate culture. It will come as no surprise that Scrum has its roots in Japanese software companies, so let’s look at the history of Scrum to get an idea of where it came from.

What is the History of Scrum? 

In 1986 two prominent Japanese business experts - Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka – published an article in the ‘Harvard Business Review.’ It described a new approach to commercial product development. The article explained how this approach would speed up development and increase flexibility. This is considered the first mention of, and introduction to, the Scrum framework. 

The software development industry quickly picked up Scrum, as the framework is perfect for that sort of business. By 1995 Scrum had been developed into a formal framework by businessmen Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, who would write a manifesto of Scrum operation and develop training classes. They parted ways some years later but remain in the industry advising and training in Scrum methods. 

The formalizing of Scrum as a framework led to creating what is known as its ‘Three Pillars.’ These are essential to the operation and success of Scrum, so let’s have a look at them.

The Three Pillars of Scrum

There are many reasons why Agile is the future of product development, and the Three Pillars help us understand why. They are as follows:

  • Transparency is one of the core elements of Scrum. In seeing what progress is being made at all times across the project, success can be attributed to those responsible, thus adding to the reward and the corporate culture. 
  • The inspection involves regular checks during the ‘sprint’ stage – the race towards a set goal – to check any variations in time, such as delays. 
  • The adaptation follows inspection and involves adjusting processes quickly to avert any further deviation from the timeline. 

The above are integral to the Scrum framework and allow for flexibility that is essential in any Agile working practice.

The Benefits of Agile and Scrum

Agile is a method of working that is necessarily iterative. Step by step increments forward is enabled by adhering to the three pillars described above, allowing rapid change and adaptability. There are a few main benefits of working with Scrum, for example:

  • Faster product development
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Constant team development
  • Personal empowerment of those in the Scrum
  • Rapid attention to problems
  • Complete visibility at all times
  • More appeal in corporate culture

However, it is also clear that implementing Scrum means a complete and necessary change in corporate culture and the structure of the business. Let’s have a look at this problem in more detail.

Problems to Overcome when Implementing Scrum

We can see from the above that Scrum is an ongoing process that engenders the learning and development of individuals and teams. It works not with set tools in the traditional businesses sense but with the mindset and talents of individuals.

For example, a business may have a board of directors, a series of middle managers who report to them, and different departments overseen by a series of managers. This ‘waterfall’ method of managing from the top-down has no place in Agile or in Scrum.

And it is here we meet the first problem, which is our aversion to drastic change. For a business to go from the management hierarchy described to operating a Scrum development framework, it effectively has to reduce at least some managers to team members alongside their previous charges. This will undoubtedly be met with some resistance.

There is a tendency for an established business to fall into a way of doing things that they do not want to move away from. This is another problem: convincing those of the old school business that Scrum is the way forward.

But for many businesses with product development to the fore, Scrum undoubtedly is the future and is a far more productive and efficient method of operation than that business has been using for decades, if not centuries. 

We hope this brief explanation and history of Scrum has helped you understand what it is all about more readily. We advise that you check out the resources provided and learn more about how Scrum can benefit your business.

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