SCRUM and KANBAN: Rapid change, mounting complexity in the community and changing demands

While this presentation is an eye opener for me on who is the 3rd largest social gaming provider on the planet, it also is an interesting take process management, integration and improvement. Wooga has adapted to the fast paced market of social gaming with deploying Scrum and Kanban in an integrated fashion.

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  • Reply Jeremy Stark June 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    It will likely occur to them that they should also drop the final vestiges of Scrum that remain in their process as it is of no real value to them. They are being held back by at least two problem areas:

    * They haven’t adapted the Product function to deal in terms of flow instead of iterations (slide 25). This will be a training and process fix.
    * They are still doing code freezes on Friday (slide 33) even though they admit a feature is ready when it is done (slide 27). Maybe they just need to explain this better or it is a side effect of Product not being clued into how things really work. If it’s the later than they really only have one problem and they can drop the Scrum pretense entirely when they fix it.

    On the other hand they have internalized some very important concepts such as:

    * Iterations are useful to support the simplistic Scrum process model but do not adequately map to reality (slide 22, 23)
    * Visualizing the full value chain increases awareness of bottlenecks and improvement possibilities (slides 24, 28, 29)
    * Features are released when they are ready, not according to wishful scheduling (slide 27)
    * The concept of pulling work vs. pushing work increases focus on the customer (slide 24).

    Oddly, they do not mention WIP and none of their Kanban boards seem to have WIP. You can’t really have a Kanban system without WIP because the WIP is the signal that you need to “place an order for more work”.

  • Reply Jon Gatrell June 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Jeremy, thanks for the thoughtful comments. I think changing processes and managing processes is a sticky wicket and your observations illustrate this. Abandoning the a previous process is always a challenge, since businesses and departments have investments in skills and systems which for many organizations are still working on some level is hard to walk away from due to the investments.

    again thanks.


  • Reply Jeremy Stark June 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Rereading my post it’s tone is more proscriptive than I meant it to be. I just pasted it from an internal email I sent in response to this link going around. I should have reduced it’s tone of certainty as I don’t know this specific situation.

    You said:
    “Abandoning the previous process is always a challenge, since businesses and departments have investments in skills and systems which for many organizations are still working on some level is hard to walk away from due to the investments.”

    This is a key gripe I have with Scrum as rolled out by Scrum coaches: a complete lack of appreciation for process and relationships that existed prior to Scrum. These factors are almost always “still working on some level” and would likely benefit from improvement rather than replacement. Scrum is a neat package in that it’s all or nothing. Very easy to role out when you don’t have to understand context. It’s a consultants dream.

    On the other hand improving existing process requires, first and foremost, awareness. Observing and paying attention to process and people over time. It requires knowledge of the business as well as the development of relationships within the organization that are based on trust, reciprocity and results. It requires an organization to mature enough to challenge itself at all levels to make the necessary adjustments in order to get better at what it does. To me, Scrum is an answer but the more valuable part of the equation are the questions. In my experience Scrum coaches don’t ask questions. To misquote Picasso: “Scrum is useless, it can only give you answers”. Lean and Kanban focus on the questions and push the answering to the appropriate parties. This promotes a very engaged non dogmatic value stream.

    • Reply Jon Gatrell June 4, 2011 at 6:52 am

      Thanks for coming back and everyone is entitled to their own take – proscriptive or not. Being a consultant type, I might take a little different view on SCRUM or any methodology/framework, but I can clearly see your point. I’ve worked with many organizations and each one takes a process, methodology or framework and uses it differently – each with their own level of success and each with opportunities for improvement.

      I’ve personally found in my experience, that pure play implementations from scratch rarely actually happen, but instead most are tailored to a company, the markets being service and the go to market strategy. Again thanks for the comment and chat soon I hope!


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