With the recent departure of Ken Schwaber from the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors, we reach what is probably the first major crisis in the existence of Scrum as a major force not only in the Agile Development community, but in the software development community as well. One must wonder how the separate entities, Scrum Alliance on one hand, and Scrum.org on the other, will choose to coexist. Will this sundering be peaceful, agitated, or downright vicious.
To be sure, all entities, be they corporations or non-profits, ideologies or ideas go through periods of impressive growth, stagnation, and upheaval. You can’t have that many people involved in an effort and not have disagreements — occasionally severe ones. Unlike others writing on this subject, I choose not to cast around blame, making assumptions about others attitudes, perspectives, or incomes. One can easily argue that significant participation of the CSTs might have actually made the current situation worse. To me, this is an inevitable consequence of having lots of opinionated people trying to agree and work together and trying to do so in an environment where any player, even Ken, could simply walk away if things didn’t go the way he or she wanted.
Regardless of the reason, then, Ken has done just that — walked away and differentiated himself (and his new website, Scrum.org) from the Scrum Alliance in some very specific perspectives — a focus on self-assessment and coaching rather than certification. Whatever Ken decides to do, I certainly wish him well.
My concern is not that a sundering has occurred — as I said, all such movements are subject to this kind of turmoil. My question to both organizations is — how do you plan to co-exist? Will these methodological neighbors be friendly, competitive, or combative? The answer to this question is paramount — the CST community aside, a lot of businesses and people have put their trust in us to truly improve the world of work. If these two entities decide to be competitive or combative, Scrum may be too young to survive the carnage.
So, to Ken and the Scrum Alliance, I ask, “How will you treat each other? Will you honor each other’s perspectives, being truthful to your own beliefs and values? Or, perhaps, will you entrench yourselves in your current beliefs, sheltering yourself from alternative views and ideas, creating a hostile environment for those of us who have worked hard for our certifications and truly care about the people we teach and coach?” How both organizations decide to behave will have a long lasting impact on those of us who truly care about Scrum and wish not to be caught up in the politics of opinions and positions. How both organizations behave may have a terminal impact on Scrum.
To Tom Mellor (Chairman of the Board of the Scrum Alliance) and Ken I urge you both, whatever decisions you feel you need to make in the next couple months — do so with the good of the community and the industry foremost in your thoughts and not with vengence or despite. Don’t take what’s been built and make it irrelevant again.