Can Local Factors Influence Scrum Adoption?

Last post 08:17 am May 23, 2020
by Joshua Partogi
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11:43 am May 17, 2020

I am conducting research into how local factors may influence scrum adoption.  My research aims to understand if scrum implementations are identical across geographic regions or if local factors have an impact.  For example how scrum teams perceive inspection and adaption may differ across geographic regions and may be impacted by local factors.   

It is suspected that local factors such as organisational culture, societal culture, local work ethic, management styles as well as personal characteristics of employees may influence the success or failure of scrum adoption.  My research aims to explore this phenomenon while recognising that the rules of scrum require that each component within the scrum framework serves a specific purpose and is essential to scrums success and usage.  

If you could post and let me know your thoughts on this phenomenon I would be very grateful.  

Keep on scrumming!  

03:31 am May 18, 2020

Cultural issues are absolutely important. I worked on a product where I was based in the US (corporate office), but worked with teams in Eastern Europe, LATAM and APAC. I can assure you that when I sent a chatter message to the team in APAC (specifically Japan) it didn't matter how late it was, I got a response saying "Yes. It will be done." In the US, I would have a back-and-forth trying to convince people to do what they were being told and paid to do. 

06:31 am May 18, 2020

I second what Mark said. I am from the Netherlands, where the general mindset is relatively liberal and open, which makes it easier to change things in my experience. Not per se saying it is easy, but easier. My experience with the US that I visited quite frequent and work with on a regular basis, is that it takes a lot more time and political work to implement Scrum and an agile mindset in the way that it was inteded to. More sense of hierarchy. Also working with other European countries differs per region. Germany is breaking loose of hierarchy, Belgium still is quite conservative and likes more structure and "predictability" in what to expect from their work. The more south-east you go in Europe, the more do-as-you're-told comes to play. 

Why am I mentioning these specifically? Because these are some of the recurring reasons of conflict in multiple teams I worked with:)

04:58 pm May 19, 2020

As an SM I usually encounter fewer Scrum problems, but I frequently encounter cultural problems. I would say I spend 70% of my time addressing problems arising from cultural differences and uniqueness. However, I do not think these are limited to or by geographical barriers. The conflicts are more at personal levels. I would say some types of cultural issues are prevalent in some areas while others are not and vice-versa. I have worked in the APAC region (Australia, Japan, and India) as well as North America and the EU. I am based in Canada and a Canadian team I was working with had a couple of Australian members. While a majority of factors are identical in these two countries, Canadian team members were stating that the Aussie team members are too blunt sometimes. They (Aussies) did not want to wait for complete, exhaustive discussions on certain issues and would rather go ahead with their assumptions and work. They would retackle the issues if they had any at a later date, often frustrating the others.

  • I would say in general principle teams/members from Japan, India tend to do what they are told sooner and then discuss other pending aspects at a later date. Peculiarly for Japan respecting others over yourself or your opinion is more important. 
  • Teams/members from Germany and Australia tend to crack on the issue, sometimes even at the cost of angering or frustrating others.
  • Teams/members from the US and CAN prefer more comprehensive workflow and decisions upfront. 

Five fundamental Scrum values are my guide rails. As an SM I have to understand which value is being impacted and act and coach accordingly.

08:17 am May 23, 2020

Yes definitely. Habit creates culture. Culture makes people in that group of people to have bias. Bias will define how people perceive things, in this case Scrum itself.

In some culture, Scrum is seen as something that is normal, something that is not new as the group of people has been living the spirit before Scrum even exists.

In some culture, Scrum is seen as a utopia. Something that people aspire but will never happen.