Scrum is not about agile development, it is about agile projects

Possibly you have already experienced something like this: The project leader comes over to the project team and asks for help. There is some issue, like a bug or a new feature, which must be implemented within the actual sprint or immediately if possible. The team answers: “Well, we can implement this, but please only if it is really that important. Because if we do this we cannot longer achieve our sprint goals.” And now the project leader looks confused and says: “I thought we use scum because of agile development. Therefore, it should not be a problem to react flexible and agile to such requests.”

What’s the problem in this conflict situation? Scrum, and agile development in general, has been misunderstood. It is not the goal of scrum to create agile developers which implement every feature immediately on acclamation of a project leader. Quite the reverse! Within an agile and constantly changing world, scrum try’s to create little islands with fixed conditions.

Plans are nothing, planning is everything

If you start a project, you can create a detailed plan how, when, where has to do what. But as you know, everything is changing during a project. Therefore such a project plan will be outdated soon after he is finished. So it is inefficient to create a detailed long-term plan.

On the other hand, it is also inefficient if you constantly change and reschedule your planning at very short intervals. For example if you daily communicate new goals, nobody will ever have a chance to finish some work.

Find the balance

As a consequence, if you want to have an efficient project, you have to find the balance between an agile constantly changing project environment and a defined implementation phase with fixed goals.

Scrum will over a framework to implement such a development process. It allows the project leader – or project owner – to have an agile project. But it also creates defined development periods, which you know as a “sprint”, with a fixed and unchangeable implementation plan. So the short term plans are fixed but they overall project plan is agile.


Most project members, especially when they are new in agile development teams, think that agile development means that the developers may react agile to every which of the project leader. But that’s a misapprehension. Agile means we allow the project leader to have an agile planning but the implementation is executed in many short timeframes with fixed plans. So the developers don’t have to be agile, the project leader has to be agile.

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