Enabling Scrum’s Ultimate Sophistication

By Brad Barton, Mark Ferraro, and Si Alhir

We — Brad (@Brad_Barton), Mark (@mark4ro), and Si (@SAlhir) — were recently invited to contribute a guest post to Planbox’s blog where we briefly explored the power of velocity ranges and how this concept relates to variation, predictability, and making meaningful commitments.

As we leverage Scrum (among other Agile approaches and various bodies of experiences) with clients and as we explored Planbox, Leonardo da Vinci’s words quickly emerged:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.


Scrum is a “simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects” — perhaps even “deceptively simple”!

As Scrum.org explains — simplicity is a means not an end, and supporting people’s need to be human is the end!

However, Scrum is much more than a simple framework. Scrum supports our need to be human at work: to belong, to learn, to do, to create and be creative, to grow, to improve, and to interact with other people. In other words, Scrum leverages the innate traits and characteristics in people to allow them to do great things together.

When working with individuals, teams, and organizations, we are very keen in focusing on human needs and always seek to only introduce the most non-intrusive means to foster individual, team, and organizational well-being and performance — especially when considering automation / tooling — as a human enterprise.

Enabling Scrum

If “Scrum is an innovative approach to getting work done,” perhaps Planbox’s sophistication is best reflected in how it helps organize work as Initiatives, Projects, Items, and Tasks.

  • An initiative is a “global container of projects and iterations.” It may represent clients, business units, products, etc. Consider, what are the initiatives in your world?
  • A project “is a child container of an initiative” and “contains people, items and tasks”. For example, a client has multiple projects, a business unit has multiple projects, and a product has multiple projects (discovery efforts, delivery efforts, marketing, sales, etc.). Consider, what are the projects in your world?
  • An iteration (or sprint) is a “time period in which items must get done”.

Fundamentally, if you use Scrum because of its sophistication, why compromise that sophistication when considering automation / tooling!

As Gary Hamel emphasizes:

We are all prisoners of our paradigms. A paradigm is more than a way of thinking — it’s a worldview, a broadly and deeply held belief about what types of problems are worth solving, or are even solvable.

Don’t let the paradigms of your automation / tooling imprison you, but ensure they enable Scrum’s ultimate sophistication and support your need to be human!


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