This was a fascinating discussion facilitated by Jeffrey at CITCON Amsterdam. Much talking with him followed, so I think I finally understand why he introduced this topic, and why so many people seemed to dislike Scrum.
This was a typical discussion where antis are much more vocal that pros. When Jeffrey asked who thought Scrum was evil, maybe 12 raised their hands. Only 3 or 4 (including me) thought that Scrum was NOT evil. The majority stayed silent.
Most of the session was spent listing arguments pro and anti Scrum. You could say it was lively ;-)
The first conclusion of the session to me was that the people against Scrum were mostly complaining about the fact that some projects were failing with Scrum.
Further, I feel that this reveals that they are in a post-agile mindset, which could be more prevalent in the US/UK (maybe the Netherlands, too?) than in France where Agile still faces an uphill battle.
Another thing is that, when you look at it, the people were really complaining about its success. After all, many of these arguments (pyramid scheme, some people feeling it solves all problems) were the very reasons Scrum was successful.
As Jeffrey pointed out during the session, it meant that, as per described in Crossing The Chasm, we are simply moving from the ‘enthusiasts’ stage to the ‘early adopters’. Many more people are now using Scrum, and its message is bound to be altered somewhat.
Jeffrey further pointed that, since it seems that 80% of projects fail now that many are using Scrum, just as there were 80% of projects that failed before, it simply means that 80% of the population is just not very competent. It has little to do with the methodology. This is also what Alistair Cockburn meant when he mentioned that “Process is a second-order effect”.
So, my undertanding is that Jeffrey’s goal is to change people and to use tools such as psychology to do so.
I am more nuanced, maybe because I am living in a country were Agile is still not being widely accepted. After all, this is all a short-term vs. long-term thing. Having a manager doing Command & Control was very short term. Agile (and Scrum) is medium term: you are providing a tool for people to get better in the medium term, if they are competent enough. Changing people is much longer-term thing. It might take years, generations, or may not ever happen.
For me, Scrum still seems to be providing those medium-term benefits, at least for now, in my environment. When it won’t be the case anymore, I might bash it like everyone else does.
Update (07/10/08): changed title from “Scrum is evil!” to “Is Scrum Evil?”