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Scrum Extensions Update - 1st Quarter 2012

by Christopher Goldsbury on Apr 30, 2012 |

What's happened with scrum extensions since our last update?  We wondered too...so we reached out to Alex Armstrong, VP Business Development and Director of Programs at Scrum.org. Here's what he had to say: 

What we have achieved
 
We've been validating that there is interest in scrum extensions as a solution to a need we have been hearing for about a year. The latest proposal garnered 18 comments in the first 24 hours it was posted. 
 
We have received more than a dozen proposals, three of which have made it to the stage of being ready for public review and feedback.
 
 
 
What we have learned
 
This idea of a “Scrum Extension” is still relatively new to people. Many of the extension proposals we have received have been closer to best practices for software development, rather than specific approaches to achieving something within the Scrum framework. Think TDD vs. a particular approach to conducting a Sprint Review meeting in an effective way for a particular context.
 
We’ve also learned that people are taking these proposals very seriously, which has reminded us that our jobs as advisors to the people proposing the extensions is incredibly important. These extensions are forcing conversations to happen, which we think is a very positive step in helping Scrum move forward.
 
Finally, we have learned that this will be a slow process. People are asking some very good questions. Many of them deserve consideration. It will take time for the extension proposers to address the concerns of the entire Scrum Community before any of these are officially published.
 
Next Steps
 
Continue learning. We know there is interest, but we are still determining if this approach satisfies the stated need in a compelling way.
 
I spoke at the AgileNZ conference last week and presented this idea of Scrum Extensions to the audience. Once they understood the idea and purpose I received a lot of great ideas for extensions that I had never heard before. We will do more of this direct outreach to the community until there is a critical mass of examples for other people to use as a baseline.
 
After hearing Alex's status on scrum extensions, some further questions came up:
 
InfoQ: How is the scrum community embracing the idea of adding extensions?  Is the feedback generally positive or is there a sense that we're modifying something that already works well?
 
Alex: There are two camps that seem to be forming in response to Scrum Extensions. There is one camp that sees a very real need for “How to implement Scrum” instructions, many of which were in the Scrum Guide and have been removed. The other camp is weary of associating any specific guidance with Scrum that could be misunderstood or misused (Cargo Cult implementations).
 
InfoQ: Are scrum extensions a way to enhance scrum for a life beyond software development? Could/would extensions adapting scrum to other industries be accepted? 
Alex: This is not our goal at all. Extensions aren’t meant to enhance Scrum. Extensions are simply context-specific practices that work well within the Scrum Framework.  For example: The Sprint Backlog is the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint plus a plan for delivering the product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal. One way of expressing a Sprint Backlog would be to decompose the Product Backlog items into a list of tasks that need to be completed. Another might be to create a list of failing tests that need to be made to pass. Both approaches are being used by teams today, and either would be a valid Extension to the Scrum Framework.
 
InfoQ: Are extensions more likely to be accepted if they modify scrum to be better or augment it for a different context?  Does it matter? 
Alex: Scrum can’t really be better or worse; it just is. Ken wrote a great blog entry reiterating this point last year. Extensions are more likely to be accepted if they actually help teams deliver more usable and useful software to their customers. That is what we are trying to achieve with them.
 
Conversations on these extension proposals are going on over at the yahoo tech boards.  Here are some quick links related to the proposed extensions:
 
 

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