is Scrum a method ?

Last post 04:37 pm July 5, 2019
by Daniel Wilhite
16 replies
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08:54 pm July 1, 2019

Hi,

Sorry for the inconvenience, I know there are many posts about this subject.

I've read articles about :

https://www.scrum.org/forum/scrum-forum/6117/agile-methodology-or-framework-or-philosophy

https://dzone.com/articles/scrum-is-a-framework-not-a-methodology

Ok Scrum is not a methodology, it's a framework.

But, may I say is a "method" ? (cf. "methodology" vs. "method", "methodology is not a method")

Some people say : "Scrum is a framework, not a method."

In fact, in the Scrum paper "Nut, Bolts, and Origins of an Agile Framework", and Jeff talked about "Scrum method" : 

Scrum for software development teams began at Easel Corporation in 1993 [21] and emerged as a formal method at OOPSLA’95

- The approach used to develop a system is known as a method. A method describes the activities involved in defining, building, and implementing a system; a method is a framework. 

The Scrum Guide says : "Scrum is not a ... definitive method", so I understand this method can evolve (?)

Here https://www.scrum.org/resources/what-is-scrum says "Scrum implements the scientific method of empiricism" so by transitivity it's a method (?)

Thanks for your feedback

02:14 am July 2, 2019

But, may I say is a "method" ? 

Who would you say that to, and why? What should they conclude from it?

Suppose you did refer to Scrum as a method. Would that be more or less helpful than just describing it as a framework, and as something within which various other practices can be applied?

08:48 am July 2, 2019

I just want to understand if Scrum is a method or not, and why many people talk about Scrum like a method?

Is it appropriate or not ?

10:18 am July 2, 2019

What helped me to understand wording differences was reading Scrum Guide (just the beginning) translated to my native language, there difference between framework and method is more pronounced and meaningful.

04:24 pm July 2, 2019

I just used a similar analogy in another post but it seems to work here also.

When you build a house you create a framework of supports for the house.  There is a method to building frameworks but is the actual framework a method? No it is just a framework upon which to create the actual house. 

Here https://www.scrum.org/resources/what-is-scrum says "Scrum implements the scientific method of empiricism" so by transitivity it's a method (?)

It says that the "method of empiricism" is used. Just like the method of creating a house framework starts with the foundation and not the roof. But the framework is not transitively a method.

I just want to understand if Scrum is a method or not,...

In my opinion no. 

...and why many people talk about Scrum like a method?

I believe that only the people that talk about Scrum as a method can answer your question.  We can all give our opinions but in the end it is just our opinion.  The "method" people are also providing their opinion. Having never called Scrum a method I can only assume that those people that do are trying to find ways to communicate something ambiguous with words that people can relate to. Not a bad tactic but still their opinion. 

05:49 pm July 2, 2019

Agile is an Umbrella – Methodologies are Implementations

Agile development is not a methodology in itself. It is an umbrella term that describes several agile methodologies. At the signing of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, these methodologies included Scrum, XP, Crystal, FDD, and DSDM.

source: https://www.scruminc.com/microsoft-agile-guidance-visual-studio/

06:42 am July 3, 2019

Scrum, XP, Crystal, FDD, and DSDM.

XP, Crystal, FDD are more explicit compared to Scrum. DSDM lies somewhere inbetween. 

10:13 am July 3, 2019

Why does Jeff highlight Scrum like a methodology / method ?

10:24 am July 3, 2019

SCRUM

SCRUM is an example of Agile PM methodology that involves teams in producing a software product in 30-day “sprints” and monthly “scrum sessions“. In a SCRUM-driven project, the deliverables are broken down into 30-day intervals. This methodology example is specific and applicable mainly to collaborative, 100%-dedicated teams, with no heavily constrained time and materials budget.

source: https://mymanagementguide.com/basics/project-methodology-definition/

12:01 pm July 3, 2019

Why focus on trying to categorize Scrum in one of these one-word categories? These category definitions are so worn-out and elastic that actually choosing one doesn't teach you anything, in my honest opinion. It can be a fun topic to discuss during Scrum training coffee breaks, but other than that? Worst case, it may even inadvertently distract or even mislead people who come in preloaded with certain assumptions or judgements based on these terms.

*IF* choosing a one-word category for Scrum somehow helps you continuously shape and adapt your workflow to reach goals and meet needs, then by all means, create definitions that work for you and your organization. Maybe it helps transparency, maybe it facilitates acceptance, maybe it is a nice discussion starter, I don't know. At any rate, I myself prefer to focus on Scrum and its actual components rather than which vague category it falls into.

01:00 pm July 3, 2019

Yes it's your opinion... For me, the meaning of words are important. Indeed, I asked if Scrum is a method. If not, why does jeff say 'method' ?

04:04 pm July 3, 2019

source: https://mymanagementguide.com/basics/project-methodology-definition/

Their summary of Scrum is quite outlandish :)

Can you describe which goal you are trying to achieve by trying to find out whether Scrum is a method? How will that knowledge help you? Maybe there are other insights or discussion topics that could help us enlighten each other.

Also, about the nuts&bolts paper thing... It is hundreds of pages long. It describes Scrum in many ways, as a method, a methodology, as "not a method", as a framework, and that's just from 1 minute of searching for the word "method" and "framework" :)

So, who knows who wrote which paragraph exactly why and in which state of mind anyone chose which elastic term to describe anything? Probably what felt right at the time to explain whatever needed explaining optimally, or maybe just loose colloquialisms? Again, who knows, but also, why would you want to know.

04:33 pm July 3, 2019

Yes it's your opinion... For me, the meaning of words are important. Indeed, I asked if Scrum is a method. If not, why does jeff say 'method' ?

The references you have made to Jeff saying it is a method are from early in the evolution of Scrum. In the original OOPSLA paper it was presented to the world as Development Process and processes have methods.  Jeff and Ken have evolved it since then and defined it as a framework. Frameworks rely on processes which use methods but that doesn't make a framework a method. We have all provided you our opinions and explained how we arrived at them.  You are entitled to your own opinions.  It is really easy for any one of us to find a number of sources on the Internet to support our own opinions just as you have done.  

You state that the meaning of words are important to you.  I agree with that statement.  But even then, most statements and the choice of words used are made by people based on their interpretations or opinions.  The only person that definitively provide the answer to the meaning that was intended is the person that made the actual comment.  So you can only get the true answer to your question by having Jeff Sutherland respond since it is his statement that you want to understand.  Until that happens, I encourage you to find an interpretation that makes the most sense to you and the organizations you are working with.  Based on my experience many of the organizations I have worked with need different interpretations in order for them to understand enough to mold themselves into agile practices. 

Words are important because they are the method used to convey information.  As such they should be chosen wisely and take into account the audience.  As time evolves so does the vocabulary and meanings of some words.  Look at the business and software development world at the time of OOPSLA '92. Having been working in software development for almost 10 years at that point, I feel comfortable saying that frameworks weren't part of that industry yet.  So the choice of words used in the paper makes sense at that time.

07:52 pm July 3, 2019

Again, who knows, but also, why would you want to know.

Because, I am a Scrum Master. Is it ok for you this answer ? I have to explain "What is Scrum", and "What is not". I have to explain "What is a framework", and when people ask me "if Scrum is a method" or the difference between method vs methodology vs fwk, It's difficult for me, so I try to understand... So now, I am beginning to understand the difference, but when I'm reading severals books (OOPSLA, The Scrum paper, etc...) some people talk about Scrum like a Method (or methodology). And I want to understand. In fact, I think, if a Scrum Master is responsible for promoting Scrum, it's important. imho.

07:57 pm July 3, 2019

Thanks Daniel Wilhite. Thanks to all.

07:59 pm July 3, 2019

@Guillaume, please remember that OOPSLA was in 1995 and the paper too.  Thinking evolved quickly after that.  Read the Scrum Guide and use that as your direction.  I think you are over thinking this a bit too.  As the Scrum Guide says as does Ken and Jeff, Scrum is a framework from which process evolves.  I would have a listen to their last 2 videos where they announce the changes in the past 2 versions of the Guide.  They talk about some of these areas too:

2017- https://www.scrum.org/resources/2017-scrum-guide-update-ken-schwaber-and-jeff-sutherland

2016 - https://www.scrum.org/resources/changes-scrum-guide 

04:37 pm July 5, 2019

OOPs. Wrong year for the OOPSLA conference.  Thanks @Eric for pointing out my mistake without pointing out my mistake.