Scrum but…

Kind of an odd turn of a phrase, but when I initially did my Scrum Master certification it was peppered throughout the course. Here are the things I heard:

“We use Scrum, but why meet daily, seems wasteful.”

“We use Scrum, but how can you deliver functional code every four weeks?”

“We use Scrum, but things always pop up in the real world.”

  1. This is an inherent issue in the Scrum world. An organization can buy into the philosophy of Scrum, but you have to fully implement it. See, there it is again. I had several takeaways from the class that better helped me manage development projects. I’ll give you the top five lessons of Scrum.
  1. Multitasking is a time killer – we do it every day, write an email, update a report, drink our coffee, whatever it is, we are not doing it well when we combine the tasks. A Stanford study found that in most cases, multitaskers underperformed consistently compared to their single-minded counterparts:
  1. Assigning tasks based on roles makes you a Scrum but… Agile teams are self-organizing. The logic is that as a Scrum team, it’s members contribute where and when they can. Tasks are outlined, prioritized, but never assigned by the Scrum Master. Self-assignment creates ownership of the task. If a task is assigned by someone else, there is less skin in the game.
  1. Not documenting along the way makes you a Scrum but… no matter how functional or robust your code is, if you haven’t done the proper documentation, then you are setting yourself up for failure, or worse, code that can’t be implemented. Depending on your industry, you might even be out of compliance.
  1. Transitioning to Scrum without full immersion makes you a Scrum but… in this case, I would argue that this can be one of the few if only, exceptions to the rule. Let’s be practical; you can’t have your entire business model shift overnight. If you have the ability to carve out the time and staff to run a specific project using the Agile methodology, then do so. Make notes, compare results, yes you are a Scrum-but, but if your Agile team follows the principles, you may very well find a conversion in your future.


  1. Manifesto? What manifesto? This question makes you a Scrum but…If you haven’t read the manifesto, you are doing it all wrong. For Agile, it’s not only the basics, but it is also the entire theory (at least some people say so.) (Shameless self-promotion – see my blog: The manifesto (found here:, is the Cliff Notes of Agile. These are the guiding principles of Agile; they are to be applied to each and every project where Agile is followed. Doing so will get you out of being a Scrum-but.

I always say that applying new methods in the project management world is a lot like pushing the boulder uphill. It can be done, but you need a team behind you, and you need to do it all at once. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at

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