Scrum takes its name from rugby, where a scrum is where a mini-team of players huddle together to push their opponents and take control of the ball. In a product delivery sense it is a framework that helps teams work together, encouraging close working, focused attention and continuous improvement.
I like it as an approach as it maintains focus on the goals at hand and aims to remove any obstructions that might get in the way of this. But what's it all about and what does this mean for a product manager?
There is often confusion between scrum and agile, with many thinking they are interchangeable, most likely because scrum is focused on continuous improvement, and this is a core principle of agile. However, scrum is a framework for getting work done, where agile is a mindset.
The framework has artifacts and ceremonies that keep the team focused on their delivery.
Example of a Sprint Cycle (copyright Atlassian)
The product role within scrum comes with the title of Product Owner, which is a specific role within the team, however, it carries with it many of the same responsibilities that product teams do in non-scrum organizations.
The tasks come with the overall goal of being the voice of the stakeholder and protector of the product, which involves:
For me, the regular cadence of a scrum process really support in keeping the business focused on what really needs to be done.
The regular patterns of activities help everyone in the business understand what needs to be done, and importantly when it needs to be done, and it helps to avoid the inevitable distractions that will look to push teams off course.
Where those transitioning into scrum sometimes face challenges is in the change from delivering complete features (waterfall delivery) to smaller iterations of work, and it is this area that a product person really can support the transition, as they can chunk up the work into suitable stories for delivery that can allow the product to benefit.
This shorter delivery cycle that is the aim of scrum also allows the product owner to speak to stakeholders more frequently about delivering value to them sooner, which all stakeholders love.