Can Companies Really do Twice the Work in Half the Time with Scrum?

In 2014, Jeff Sutherland published “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” – a provocative title that caused many to flock to Agile methodologies, particularly that of Scrum, as a possible panacea for productivity in the workplace.

Can it be true?  Can Scrum live up to this claim, where so many other methodologies seem to flare and fade? Even well-known methodologies such as Lean are mis-used to the point where “Lean” has become a 4-letter word (to quote my own CFO.University ™ talk from 2017 – watch to the 45-second mark!), and employees are immediately soured by the mere mention of the term.

Here are three ways that AJC’s clients use Agile/Scrum to help them improve, without falling into the trap of over-promising and under-delivering, undermining Agile as a valid methodology before it even has a chance of being used properly:

1. Start with “Agile-Lite” – Use some of the basic principles without fully diving into the whole methodology at once.

  • One of our clients uses “Sprints” with cross-functional team members for a month to focus on one or two topics with one or two deliverables, even as those team members *still* occupy their day jobs

2. Maintain the tried-and-true role of a dedicated Project Manager

  • Several of our clients do not “self-organize” their scrum sessions but allow a dedicated Project Manager to facilitate meetings and hold teams accountable to actions and deliverables, even when working within sprints using Scrum.

3. Incorporate Agile/Sprints in Scrum fashion for certain deliverables intermittently

  • In ERP implementations, we recommend Agile Sprints using the Scrum framework (daily huddles/retros, prioritized work pulled by the team) for Testing periods.  This works well for Subject Matter Expert (SME) “point-to-point” testing, for Conference Room Pilots (CRP) and User Acceptance Testing (UAT), even while the overall Implementation is run more like a traditional Project with a PM.

Above all, please do not fall into the trap of thinking that Scrum, Agile, Lean, or any other methodology will solve all your problems quickly and with little effort.  Just like everything else in life, true improvement and success takes discipline, hard work, and inspirational leadership – like yours.