More of a squeak than a roar, as world changing events go, but in May 1993 the very first use of the Scrum framework was the start of a revolution that was unimaginable. Even to those few individuals trialling a single Scrum sprint.
They were just looking to see how things turned out. The goal was pretty simple: use Scrum to deliver some software worthwhile for The Easel Corporation. Obviously it was no coincidence that Easel’s Vice President was Scrum’s co-creator Jeff Sutherland.
Obviously it went pretty well as 30 years later Scrum is in constant use by millions of teams worldwide, delivering value in every aspect of working life.
The Scrum Framework emerged from the foundations built by the creators of the Lean concept of project delivery who in turn were repurposing the inherent structure of the Toyota Production System.
So that begs the obvious question looking back from a world where Agile Ways of Working are being powered by the Scrum Framework in every direction… Why?
Why at that critical time around 30 years ago, was there such a continuous push for change?
On one level the answer is pretty simple, because billions of investment cash was being lost year after year on projects that were failing to deliver.
But it’s the nature of those projects and the breathtakingly rapid evolution of the new emerging technologies of a generation ago that was the straw that broke the Waterfall back. It simply could not respond and deliver fast enough to avoid being overtaken by events.
With the benefit of hindsight it is incredibly easy to forget how hard it was for new project delivery frameworks based on Agile to gain any traction in the world of work. Resistance to change is natural and who could blame leadership who truly felt that being asked to give up full control over scope, budget and time to delivery was more that could be tolerated.
So Waterfall project delivery persisted and the rates and the costs of failure hit the headlines and discredited the whole industry. But leaders with vision did arise who were prepared to risk reputations by supporting projects using the Scrum Framework. And nothing at all breeds success like success.
Scrum is not static, from the start its creators Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, have accepted it will continue to deliver value because it is continuously updated to reflect changes in organisational need and in the way people work
After 30 years and many iterations Scrum is now firmly established and its rate of uptake is exponential. The continuing success reflects how ’Agile’ organisations did significantly better during the covid pandemic. And continue to thrive in a world beset by unpredictability, economic upheaval and possibly permanently changed patterns of work.
And the world is now at another technological crossroads as the seemingly overnight emergence of Artificial Intelligence is presenting both unimaginable challenges and unimaginable opportunities. On its 30th birthday the Scrum Framework can respond to those challenges and help to seize those opportunities because globally it is in the best shape of its young life.