Simple, But Very Hard

Ken Schwaber’s comments in this scrum development thread are fantastic; we need to keep in mind that Scrum is a set of principles, not a call to follow a brainless list of processes.

I like something I heard Ken say during his course: Scrum is simple but very hard to do. Then he proceeded with an analogy to chess. We can all learn chess moves in a few hours, but mastery of the game takes a lot more.

So what does it take to be successful at a game like chess? I have some insight into this because much of my family plays chess, some even competitively.

  1. Smart in the “right way”: I don’t think everyone can reach a high level like “master” in chess, even if they played their whole life.  You must be clever and a strategic thinker to do so. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent but I somehow can’t seem to get past a certain level in chess–my brother, much to my chagrin, beats me consistently.
  2. Experience: it’s worthwhile to learn common “lines” in chess, which are basically patterns that show up frequently in high level play.
  3. Courage and Bravery: to win you must think outside the box and risk in order to win. Overly conservative play will lead to stalemate.
  4. Innovation: Creativity is a key to success. This is how good players beat computers.
  5. A passion for the game: if you don’t care you won’t stick around to reach a high level of mastery.

I’m sure there are others keys for success.

The term “common sense” describes the light framework and principles of Scrum; however, it is difficult because it requires intelligence, bravery, passion, and innovation to succeed within the framework (as with most things worth doing).

Victor Szalvay

Victor Szalvay currently leads product development for CollabNet’s ScrumWorks® product suite. In that capacity, he works closely with customers, stakeholders, and the development teams to deliver high business value each release cycle. With more than 150,000 active users worldwide, ScrumWorks is used by more than half of the Fortune 100 and boasts the largest market share of any Agile management tool.

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