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Seeking Advice: Scrum for Natural Resource Management?

Last post 12:59 pm March 11, 2014 by Ian Mitchell
2 replies
12:01 pm March 11, 2014


We are investigating organizational models for a public sector client who wants to use "big data" analysis tools for management of natural resources. Our main concept is "more iteration, faster." We think we can deploy 3-5 teams that would each include analysts who manipulate data in support of subject matter experts (fish biologists, or toxicologists, for example) to answer resource questions and support management decisions.

The management issues are large and complex - typically landscape scale. The current state of analysis is glacial. Stove piped information, spreadsheet-driven analysis, and powerpoint-focused meetings, are the coins of the realm. However, our experience shows that evidence-based management might be possible on bite-sized chunks of investigation - on the order of several weeks per investigation. My initial thought is that these might be similar to sprints.

Our question for this community forum is this: might Scrum be an appropriate organizational model for our concept? And, if so - are there examples that we can learn from?

We understand that we are not exactly building software (although customization may be part of the analysts' job). But, we are trying to break down complex systems into bite-sized chunks in order to make informed decisions.

Any help and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.



12:33 pm March 11, 2014

Hello Mike,
welcome to the forum.
I like your approach.
Scrum is not about building software, but about developing products and solving complex problems.
Actually you can even use Scrum to introduce Scrum in an enterprise, which is one of the most complex problems.
It seems like your problem can be described in Product Backlog Items. Probably you have a person who has a high interest in getting the problems solved - this person might fit to the role of the Product Owner.
If you see value in iterations as a natural rhythm to provide transparency - go for it.
If not, you might also think about Kanban where iterations are optional.
In the end the most important thing is to deliver value, travel light and improve continuously.
Good luck!

12:59 pm March 11, 2014

For evidence based management based on investigation, you are probably best served with a "validated learning" model. The purpose of this is to formulate testable hypotheses and thereby break complexity down in order to make informed decisions. 

This can be achieved using Scrum, although I suggest you also look at the Lean Startup approach as this puts its focus on validated learning.

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