Why so many miss the point of scrum.

A few months ago I failed to explain why we're missing the point of scrum. Now, armed with the works of Tao Te Ching I'm taking another shot.

Communication is at the heart of everything we do. But doing it well can be difficult. One of the goals of this blog was to practice communicating. Trying to make a point in the most impactful way possible. Sometimes I’ve tried metaphors, sometimes lists and sometimes being plain esoteric. I’m not sure which way is best. It’s definitely an art.

A couple of months ago I had a go expressing a feeling I had about the Scrum framework on the site Simple Programmer. I was trying to explain why I think the framework is misunderstood. And why when you focus on the rules, you lose the essence of the idea. When I finished the piece I didn’t feel like I expressed it well enough. Like something was missing. The idea wasn’t totally formed. I guess that means I don’t understand it well enough.
Whilst chatting with a friend about the same topic. It reminded me of a quote I had read recently. From Tao Te Ching. Tao Te Ching is about “the Tao”. An abstract concept. The Tao is something that can considered a kind of life-force. An energy that is hard to describe. And, when you do try to describe it, it shifts. It jumps straight through your hands. Like trying to catch smoke. The paragraph was this:
Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the centre hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
This page from Tao Te Ching seemed to do a better job of expressing what I was feeling. Scrum comes with a set of rules. But it’s not the rules that are important. It’s what you do with them. It’s still down to you and your intuition. You can’t throw away the smart. You can’t rely only on ceremonies. And expect it all to work out. In fact the more you focus on the rules, the more you lose the idea.
The scrum framework is only scaffolding. As in the Tao: it’s the space in-between that is the essence.
Lou Bichard