Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/29/verity_stob_scrum/

I was timeboxed in a holistic scrum

More lithe than agile

By Verity Stob

Posted in Verity Stob, 29th November 2010 11:30 GMT

Stob Do you suffer from unsatisfactory projectile climaxes? Is your software construction methodology previous generation? Do you require the predictable outcome of pre-planning with the flexibility of iteration and the lightness of touch of partially de-hierarchicalised management approaches?

No need to say anything. I can tell from your expression.

 Of course you do.

And that's why you need SCROB:

Software Constructed Rightly, Once and Best.

The mystique of SCROB

Certain modern management techniques, in spite of claiming to be based on democratic principles, can leave you with the feeling of being roundly patronised, of somehow being laughed at behind your back. Earnestly being assured that you are being empowered, while simultaneously treated like a halfwit.

SCROB is supreme at this.

Remember those not terribly geographic geography lessons, where dull facts about U-shaped river valleys and the spread of Arndale shopping centres were cast aside? And Miss Barclay instead had us push desks together to form giggling teams to simulate the economic circumstances of competing ice cream vendors on Southend promenade with counters, cardboard boxes, dice and empty washing-up liquid bottles?

Remember the times when your interest and sympathy in some modern malaise has briefly been piqued by a radio talking head? Only to hear her execute an abrupt corner in her monologue, and dramatically and counter-intuitively assert that the (religious) solution to the problem was originally expounded many hundreds of years ago in that historic hotbed of rational cooperation, the Middle East?

Remember when you had been doing rather well with the latest William-and-Katie joke? And have successfully captured everyone's attention with rather clever embellishments and witticisms of your own? And you suddenly realise that you have quite forgotten the hilarious punchline you have supposedly being leading everybody towards for the last five minutes?

SCROBling is a bit like all these things, only more so.

SCROB in summary

Above all else, SCROB is simple. SCROB can be summarised in a page of PowerPoint-pertinent powerful points:

Game on - SCROB words

Top practitioners make sure there is a SCROB word in every sentence they say. Here are some specially good words, selected for just for you by the SCROBmeister General. But one word hidden in the list is an imposter. Can you find it?

adaptive - backlog - burndown - cadence - capture - checklist - competencies - cross-functional - deliverable - drivers - emergent - empowered - flow - focus - foundation - framework - increment - iterate- integrate- journey - lightweight - mentor - methodology - ownership - persona - practices - prioritise - releaseplan - stiction - story - timebox - toolkit - transubstantiation - traction - velocity - workflow

Can I too become a SCROBmeister like you?

Yes! You too can become a SCROBmeister like I.

What is the first step, Verity?

The first step is to receive foundation training from a SCROB federation approved training organisation. For as little as £1,500, you can receive four days top-notch exposure to PowerPoint slides.

Sounds a bit dull. Still, after that will I be a SCROBmeister?

Nearly. You will be entitled to write '(SCROBer II)' after your name.

However there are many, many SCROB federation approved courses, books, slides, posters and membership subscriptions between a white-wristbanded starting apprentice such as yourself and full, purple-knickered SCROBmeisterhood. This is no Six Sigma, you know.

I thought you said that SCROB was supposed to be really easy to understand?

Yes indeed. There's no danger that you will fail any of the courses, or anything like that. But remember the old saying:

Easy. Quick. Cheap. Pick one.

(NB: In fact, no need to pick one.)

SCROB out the doubters

Sad to say, sometimes we hear of ex-practitioners attacking SCROB. For example Brad Plan-Driven, former SCROB federal executive, has received a lot of undeserved attention on the blogs for his recent remarks:

I now realise SCROB is a micron-thin layer of varnish wrapped around a nanometre-thin bubble of snake oil surrounding a large hollow sphere containing nearly nothing at all... except, suspended at its very centre by an elaborate electro-magnetic field, the germ of a half an idea.

The reason that the SCROB idea requires such careful housing is that it fares very poorly when exposed to the real world.

At the SCROB Federation, we urge practitioners to be undismayed by such germ warfare. What better way to build a complex piece of software - for example the elaborate software core of a fly-by-wire aircraft - than by gliding down, as it were, through whirling storm clouds of iteration towards the narrow, fog-bound runway of a working implementation?

Japonica glistens like coral

Some of you will have heard of a new Japanese approach that is making waves in the world of software production. The idea is that a paper token, representing the job to be done, is passed from one artisan to the next, each executing his own specialist process, until the work is complete and signed off. This token has a special name, derived from the important part such artefacts played in the Japanese mercantile scene of the 17th century. It's called a works-orderu.

Some people feel that the surprising simplicity and flexibility of this oriental technique make it a very plausible alternative. Some of these misguided people have even gone so far as to claim it is actually lither than SCROB.

While the SCROB Federation is always smiling through Adversity and embracing Change, and may very often be caught fondling Innovation's bum, it stops short of sticking its tongue down the throat of Being Cut Out Of The Action. We have been developing, and will shortly be releasing, a brand new methodology which combines the best features of the Japanese toolkit with the traditional SCROB framework into a powerful new toolkit methodology framework.

Put very simply, SCROBigami is the art of iterative software construction while folding a Post-It note into a swan. Remember you read it here first: it is what all the fashionable software shops will be wearing this winter.

SCROB for freedom

So much for the future, what of the daily SCROB today?

It was Fred Brooks himself who famously said: 'Plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.'

We hesitate to quarrel with the great man of software management, but we feel pretty sure the average SCROB team can easily do better than this.

Plan to throw away three for Christmas. ®