Leverage the wisdom of the Scrum community for your success.

Scrum: The Silver Mirror

by Mike Dwyer

I really enjoy leading public CSM classes. The intensity and focus the participants bring is a blast of pure, cool, oxygen that invigorates me.

One class in particular had me working hard to answer some really tough questions. We were working hard to find the answers, when one of the students called out, “Hey Mike, you act like Scrum is a silver bullet.” Arghhh! I hate that. I don’t know how many times people get that impression and how many times I have repeated the litany, “Scrum doesn’t solve anything it shows you what is happening in your organization.” Well not this time. What jumped from my lips was, “Scrum is not a silver bullet, Scrum is a silver mirror!”.

The next day, one of the class members reported out that my “catch phrase” had really worked. “How?” we wanted to know.

It seems our teammate left the class last night and went back to work (we are such a bunch of OCD wonks). As luck would have it, his boss came in to talk to our teammate about Scrum not being the silver bullet he had expected. Our teammate responded with our new phrase, “Boss,” he said. “Scrum is not a silver bullet, it is a silver mirror!” This stopped the boss in his tracks. It suddenly became quite clear that Scrum was just that, a high-definition reflection of all the things that were actually going on. And if memory serves our teammate went on to say the conversation changed from Scrum not meeting expectations to a discussion of the problems that were showing up in Scrum’s mirror.

Mirrors are brutally honest things. They show us things—wrinkles, blemishes, grey hairs (or no hairs)—that we might now want to see. But for better or worse, mirrors reflect the truth. The next time you feel Scrum isn’t giving you the results you want, look into Scrum’s silver mirror. What realities are reflected there that you might not have seen before?