[Review Essay] Scrum Is No Holy Doctrine

The worshipping of Scrum, a prevalent management framework in major companies around the world, obscures an emerging risk: turning Scrum into another Waterfall.

Abdullah Ayasun

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A picture from a modern workplace.

The delay of products and the waste of labor are among the major grievances of both managers and customers. To this end, it may be safe to assert that the history of organizing human endeavor in the workplace is marked by a ceaseless quest to find the perfect organizational scheme to get the best from workers, both blue and white colors, and to get it on time. This inquiry on the side of management escalated and became all the more urgent especially after the revolutionary impact of modernism in all aspects of human life. The much-cherished dawn of human enlightenment saw the rationalization of economies, political and legal systems, and anything that concerns us. Yet, the modern age also brought horrors never seen before.

For all the eye-catching advances of science, the scientific approach to the management of economy at macro/micro level, and the deployment of reason in every layer of social life, a flawless and smoothly-running scheme to organize business management had eluded generations of companies and thinkers. According to Jeff Sutherland, the author of Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, most of the best companies in the U.S. were still committed to the Waterfall methodology, a framework that dominated the working environments in most of the global companies until the late 1990s.

What animates Sutherland’s book is the million-dollar question: Why do so many companies fail to deliver their products on time? Why do brilliant engineers and managers fail behind the schedule, miss deadlines? What is the core reason behind the colossal amount of waste in terms of both money and time? What can be done to bring order to the prevalent chaos that irrevocably chips away at the resources of many promising companies? Is there a solution to stop the bleeding of human resources, depletion of financial sources? Is there a way to end the otherwise preventable…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun