Fake Scrum: Half the Work in Twice the Time for Twice the Price

In Dr. Jeff Sutherland’s book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, he shares successes organizations are experiencing by following a simple framework called Scrum.

This involves ending the practice of time-slicing people (as if they are heads of lettuce) across multiple projects (which are temporary endeavors) and getting real about priority.  If it’s “all” priority then nothing is and people are forced to guess. 

Lately I’m feeling like what companies really want is Fake Scrum.  You know - Half the Work in Twice the Time for Twice the Price.  Because that is what is transpiring in reality.

As a Certified Scrum Trainer and Transformation Coach I see Fake Scrum spreading like an epidemic.  Companies think that by saying the word Scrum or the word Agile that they will mystically go faster. Yet those same companies have not made one change.

They still time-slice people across multiple “Scrum projects”.  They keep people in the old Waterfall roles of Project Manager, Business Analyst, Programmer, Tester, User Experience, etc. and then “add” or hire additional people such as Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches to work on top of that Waterfall structure.  In Scrum there is no such thing. 

As a result, leaders of these organizations spend Twice the Time and Twice the Money and get Half the Work or Value for their customers.  Then those very same leaders will say “Scrum doesn’t work”. Scrum means checking those old titles at the door and having those people perform the work differently. 


You didn’t really use Scrum!  You talked a bunch of Scrummy vocabulary and maybe stood up for 15 minutes at a meeting.  That is not doing the work differently.

My fear is that Fake Scrum is “winning”.  It is becoming the new norm.  So my question is why bother at all?

If the way you are working right now is producing the results desired in the timeframe promised and you are delighting your customers.  Don’t change a thing!

If that is not happening and you want to try something different, that means actually making changes. Scrum can help organizations focus and make real change – if used as directed. If we do not use as directed, results do vary.  Companies who are really making change to the way they do work are reporting lower costs and delivering value to their customers more rapidly.

What’s the difference between companies making these changes and companies doing Fake Scrum?  Choice. That’s the good news! The choice is any organizations to make. Work with each other to figure how best to make the changes to delight the customers and deliver value to them.

Want to learn more from companies making these changes?  Join us for Scrum Day MN on October 5, 2018. The event is a non-profit day facilitated by Collaborative Leadership Team to bring people together to learn from one another. Proceeds after expenses are met will be donated to a Minnesota charity. In 2016 we raised $5,000 for Second Harvest Food Shelf.