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Red Pill / Blue Pill Scrum

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

redpill_bluepillRecently, a colleague sent me a link to a Agile Finland Seminar; Jim Coplien: Ten things that Scrum teams almost always do wrong . The talk is about 2 hours long, stuffed with excellent information, even if Coplien’s presentation style is a bit more laid back than I prefer. In it, he references that he does ‘Red Pill Scrum’ as opposed to ‘Blue Pill Scrum’.

Being an avid Matrix movie fan, I couldn’t help but think of Morpheus’s epic speech to Neo regarding if he wanted to know the ‘true’ meaning of the Matrix or not. If you have seen the movie, you know what I am talking about. Neo chose the Red pill… and the reality it lead to was certainly a game changer!

Coplien states Blue Pill Scrum is defined as simply passing the Nokia test (team focus). For many Scrum teams, ‘simply’ passing this test is difficult enough. (By the way, like the article states, many don’t even pass the Iterative Development part of the test!)

Red pill Scrum also integrates management and enterprise usage of Scrum from top to bottom.

Coplien states blue pill will give you 10% – 20% improvement. Red pill yields one to two orders of magnitude performance improvement.

I personally feel that organizations that are just starting to adopt Agile/Scrum need to experience team success to gain momentum and ‘social proof’ for other teams to see. Once that has been successfully done, moving to enterprise Scrum usage makes sense and the cross department synergy that will result will certainly yield crazy good organizational performance improvement.

I highly recommend giving the video seminar a view. Jim Coplien is one of the founders and proponents of Agile software development. He works closely with Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, David Starr and others to facilitate Scrum’s evolution as formalized in the Scrum Guide.

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  1. December 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Red Pill scrum is not a state. It is a process. In saying that you feel that organizations need to develop expertise you are saying nothing contrary to Red Pill Scrum. And remember that the goal isn’t to do Scrum. Scrum doesn’t fix problems: people do. It’s just a diagnostic tool that helps you grow. A certain point of growth might be called Red Pill Scrum — at which point, it’s time to move on, and to really rock in building product!

  2. December 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    James: Thanks for adding your clarification comment as you and I are on the same page but I think I might not have been stating it clearly.

    My comment regarding building expertise first was regarding what I have found to work best for organizations new to Scrum in general. In essence taking one step at a time, first with your team, then moving to the organisation as a whole. That is where the social proof from the initial team’s win’s (and momentum) can come to help others in the organisation to adopt Scrum.

    BTW: I really did enjoy your Agile Finland talk and have passed it on to many of my peers both at my workplace as well as the local Agile User Group. I would be very interested to see more of your talks, if there is a ‘best’ spot on the web to find them, please let me know!

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