When I was in school, there existed a very popular packaging of music which I remember as “Hits Picks 100!” – basically these were compilations of all the songs that had been “on the charts” for the last few months. I guess in many ways it was the precursor of Napster – teenagers wanting to consume giant bags of unrelated popular music instead of albums from a single artist.
Anyway, there was sometimes a catch. Occasionally a very sheepish looking individual would arrive at school the next day, having spent all their hard earned cash on one of these massive compilation albums and when questioned about how it was1 – the reply was “Not Original Artists”
I don’t know the specifics exactly, but to keep costs down to the bargain basement prices that have ever attracted the younger purchaser, the publishers of said massive compilations would not licence the original recordings, but instead have somebody else effectively “cover” the song for the album (with varying degrees of success I might add)
There were of course legitimate compilations made, but these tended to attract higher prices. The two products looked the same, and so the average consumer assumed that they were the same.
Now of course to protect themselves legally, the advertising and packaging had to contain somewhere the dreaded “Not Original Artists” labelling – but nobody ever said how big the font had to be…
Inspired by the movie…
A few years later, a similar thing started to happen with Movie Soundtracks, which were equally as popular at the time as the pop compilations were a few years early. I’m not talking so much about Epic Original Scores such as Star Wars here, but rather more pop culture outings such as the soundtrack to Bas Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet.
These again were compilations, but this time around they were based around a curated set of songs chosen as the background for a particular movie.
Now these albums were created from licensed music and they were also combined with the licensed movie property. (No wonder they were popular!)
Hoards of people descended on music stores to buy these soundtracks and reconnect with their favourite movie.
In some ways, the movies became ads for the CDs. I think this was especially “a thing” in the days when you had to wait a year or more to own the movie yourself or even rent it from a video store. The music however you could get right away.2
But the popularity of this format once again drove marketers to exploit this demand by creating something that looked like the popular thing but wasn’t actually the popular thing.3
I remember being given an apparent movie soundtrack by a friend, putting it on to play and then halfway through thinking “I’ve seen this movie twice, but I don’t remember any of this”
So I went back to see the movie a third time, then went home and listened to the soundtrack again – to once again be baffled. Until I inspected the case a little more closely and found the phrase “Inspired by the movie…”
Inspired by Scrum
So how does this relate to process?
I think there is a lot of “Inspired by Scrum” out there that people are calling Scrum.
Who knows the full set of reasons why people do this4, sometimes it might be because people never saw the (Scrum) movie and don’t know that what they’re doing isn’t really Scrum.
Sometimes it might be just like the Hits Picks CDs – Scrum looked too hard and too expensive, so let’s do a cover version instead! Hey, it looks right doesn’t it?
Or maybe Scrum just wasn’t plain right for you and you’ve come up with something a lot better. And for some reason you’ve decided to call it Scrum anyway.
But for whatever the reason, it’s not Scrum, so please don’t call it Scrum.
Why does it matter what I call my process?
I think it matters for a few reasons, but here is the main one:
Just once I would like to hear or read an “I hate Scrum” rant that actually describes Scrum.
But this distracts from the real issue – and the real problem is that you can silence that argument with “Oh, but what you were doing wasn’t Scrum”
And that’s the problem.
Because that answer presupposes that Scrum was the right thing for these people to do.
That is to say that doing Scrum correctly would have solved all their problems. Now maybe it would have, but that’s beside the point5. You can no longer have a sensible discussion about it because we’ve placed all the blame on Scrum.6
You can’t judge a process if you’re not following the process.
So what should we call our process?
Scrum Butt was a popular term, I dunno, maybe 5-6 years ago? If you don’t remember it, the concept came from people saying “Oh we’re doing Scrum, but we don’t deliver working software at the end of each Sprint”
As cruel as it sounds, it was useful in the beginning. Because the people who genuinely wanted and needed Scrum often skipped over the active ingredients of the process and thus didn’t get the benefits. And thus “Scrum Butt” was originally a playful way of saying “Yes, I’m totally on this diet, except I’m still eating as much as I want”
But at some point in time, it suddenly became “NOT OK” to say Scrum Butt – I remember one guy at an agile conference basically losing his mind at a panel who just told him that he was doing “Scrum Butt” because they were being abusive and not helpful (Frankly, they both had a point, what he was doing was not remotely Scrum, but telling him to simply do Scrum properly wasn’t very helpful either, because that simply wasn’t feasible for him. He knew what to do, it was his company that would not permit it)
So in these days of “little ‘a’ agile” saying Scrum Butt might seem harsh, but it was at least clear.
So in order to salve egos and increase sales we got Scrum-like. This to me is the “Not Original Artists” of process naming.
The problem with the phrase “Scrum-like” is that it begs the question “In what way?” – because 9 times out of 10 the primary way in which the not-Scrum process is “like” Scrum is in the way it looks.
Inspiration over Like-ness
I think it’s more accurate, and dare I say transparent to say that your process is “Inspired by Scrum” rather than “Scrum-like”
The “Inspired By” CD’s were true originals – both artists and content. Sure they weren’t in the actual movie, but a lot of the time that didn’t matter, they were still good songs. (most of the time)
And some people even preferred the “Inspired by” CD’s to the Sound Track CD’s and that was OK too.
So if you’ve been inspired by Scrum, in whatever way then own that. Don’t feel compelled to pretend you’re doing something you’re not. Don’t wimp out and say you’re “Scrum-like”7 – own your originality.
- Which was code for “Can I get a copy please?”. Napster didn’t create the concept of “sharing” music it just scaled it. ↩
- And who doesn’t love a fast feedback cycle!? ↩
- In those days there was a less torrential stream of movie production. ↩
- Scrum is of course also not unique in this regard. ↩
- The is a secondary problem here which is we never get a decent chance to talk about the problems with Scrum itself – because we’re too busy telling people what they’re doing is not Scrum. ↩
- For what it’s worth, I’ve seen the same thing happen to kanban. ↩
- The process equivalent of using a really small font. ↩