Scrum Myths

The Scrum Myth-Buster Series

Posted by Ilan Goldstein on December 1, 2014


As a Certified Scrum Trainer and agile coach, I can say without a shadow of doubt that there is a rising agile tide that has pushed well past its early adopter space and is now settling comfortably in the mainstream.

These statistics published last year by VersionOne clearly indicate that this trend has led agile adoption to a level where it has no doubt reached the tipping point and is certainly no longer sitting on the early adopting fringes.

Now this ever increasing popularity is being driven primarily by the most heavily consumed of all the agile implementation frameworks, namely Scrum and this study further identified that of the 84% of organisations globally claiming that they have or are in the process of moving towards agility, about 75% are utilizing some form of Scrum or Scrum blend.

Bad Scrum, bad education

While I feel that this recognition is a good thing, I can pretty much assure you that based on my experience, a solid portion of that 84% are running somewhat misguided adoptions and paying lip service to the movement.

A big reason for this is a lack of quality agile education (thanks to a number of sub-par, snake-oil companies springing up to take advantage of these trends) and without the right education, incorrect misconceptions generated by propagated myths can take hold, leading organisations astray and towards warped, and potentially corrupt adoptions.

Busting up the Scrum myths

As such, in this series, I want to dispel some of these unhelpful myths that are leading to what I call lip-service Scrum and less than optimal performance.

This series will cover off myths great and small including:

MYTH 1 – Scrum is an acronym

Let’s warm up the series by first busting a terminology-myth that frankly drives me a little nuts. It’s always the little things right? 🙂

Now, many people (even so-called qualified ScrumMasters) use this capitalized spelling, implying that Scrum is an acronym.


If you fall into this camp, you might be surprised when I tell you that Scrum is not an acronym and was actually named after the game of rugby’s scrum.

For those not familiar with the sporting variety of scrum, it is a tight pack of burly, 250-ish-pound rugby players linked together like a jigsaw puzzle who work as one to drive back their opposition while progressing down the (field) toward their (scoring zone).

A Scrum team working together like a linked jigsaw puzzle

A Scrum team working together like a linked jigsaw puzzle

It is this concept of tight, self-organizing, collaborative teamwork that gave birth to the agile development version of the word. This initial comparison was described by Takeuchi and Nonaka (affectionately known as the godfathers of Scrum) in their groundbreaking paper, “The New New Product Development Game”.

Now hailing from a rugby-passionate country, I have witnessed the sporting scrum in action. It is similar in concept to the ancient Spartan shield-locking phalanx. Immensely powerful if discipline is maintained and teammates work together as one.

Sporting scrum, similar in concept to the ancient Spartan Shield-locking phalanx

Sporting scrum, similar in concept to the ancient Spartan Shield-locking phalanx

On to the next one!

I thank you my fellow mythbusters for joining me on the first warm-up leg of our truth-revealing journey. See you next time when we tackle the next Scrum myth!


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