Change management
Scrum in practice – advantages & disadvantages of Scrum

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Scrum in practice – advantages & disadvantages of Scrum




Our practical example: The introduction of Scrum in the company

What was going on? What went wrong?


How does Scrum work in practice? What happens when you introduce Scrum in your company?
What are the advantages and disadvantages? Is it really the ultimate solution for innovation and motivation?
– Welcome to our second article on Scrum!
In our first article, we looked in detail at what Scrum is, what it is good for and where it comes from. And we took a look at how it works.
You may remember our customer, Mr. M., from our first article. Mr. M. ran a medium-sized company in the civil engineering sector. Mr. M. suffered from overwork: his employees acted with little autonomy; they insisted that decisions were always approved by him. They expected him to find delegates instead of looking for tasks himself. In short: Mr. M. acted as the fatherly boss who always had to keep an eye on everything. However, this prevented him from leading his company into the future as planned, because the tasks that would have taken the company forward – such as strategy, marketing and recruiting – fell by the wayside. This brought him close to burnout. He was fed up with so much work and yet nothing was really progressing. He knew that he urgently needed to change something. A shift towards self-organization could possibly take the pressure off him. So he decided to introduce Scrum in his company…
What happened? How did his employees react to the changes? And how did Scrum prove itself in practice?



Scrum in practice: the advantages

What went well

A spirit of optimism/motivation in the team

First of all, everything was the same as with any change: on the one hand, there were critical voices in the team, especially from employees who were generally opposed to change. On the other hand, there were of course also team members who were very happy about the change. They saw a great opportunity in being able to make their own decisions and organize themselves and were rather curious about the new way of working. The discussion of these new topics alone brought a lot of momentum to the team. Mr. M. experienced the upheaval in his company as very positive, because after all the years of being stuck in a rut, his company now had a new lease of life.

Relieving the burden on management

Mr. M. quickly realized that this new type of organization had given him much more freedom and that he could now focus more on actual management tasks. He now found the time for strategic tasks, was able to work on the further development of the company, improve marketing and recruit and train new employees. He no longer had to spend his time taking responsibility, distributing tasks and chasing after his employees. This relief and the focus on management tasks brought him back the joy of his work.



Better work/ more satisfied customers

After a while, Mr. M. realized that his company’s results were improving:
As the customers were able to provide their opinions on the current status of the project at relatively short intervals, it was possible to tailor the result and the processes optimally to the needs and wishes of the customers. And, of course, customers really appreciated having more of a say.
Previously, people had been somewhat slow in this respect and often did not have all the information they needed to take a project in the right direction. After the introduction of Scrum, however, we were able to react to changes much more quickly and the results improved significantly.


Scrum made the work processes transparent; you could suddenly see exactly who had done what and when.
And this did not only have positive effects: it turned out that there were managers who made you wonder what they had actually been doing all this time.
Some managers were high up in the hierarchy and behaved accordingly, but they hardly did anything. And of course it was little cause for joy for these people that this was now visible to everyone.



All in all, the switch to Scrum has significantly improved the situation for Mr. M. and his team. Of course, a few pitfalls had to be avoided here too, but in the end customers, employees and the boss were much happier.
What could such cliffs be?


Scrum in practice: the disadvantages

What should you expect when you introduce Scrum in your company?

When you change your organization, things always happen that are less pleasant. You often only realize in the middle of the process that you have underestimated this. It therefore makes sense to be aware in advance of where conflicts may arise and to manage change carefully.

Change causes fear

A changeover scares many people – and is also quite uncomfortable. In Mr. Ms.’s company, there was initially a lot of resistance to the upcoming change. There was a lot of discussion. Some employees were of the opinion that the switch to Scrum was complete nonsense; they didn’t need all that because everything was better before. For Mr. M, this meant that he had to act consistently: he had to completely abolish the old way of working by making it impossible.



Such an approach is always a balancing act: on the one hand, it is necessary in such a situation to make a clean cut and clearly state that work will now be carried out exclusively in the new way; on the other hand, there must of course also be room for employees’ concerns. It must be possible for them to vent their frustration and “throw up”. Above all, however, it is important that their wishes and objections are constructively integrated into the new way of working. This requires professional change management.
Many companies skip change management and simply launch the new method into the blue. They are then often surprised to discover that things are not going so smoothly, that there is a high level of dissatisfaction, that the good people have left the company and that ultimately no efficiency gains are being made. This shows that such a change needs to be carefully managed.

Transparency is inconvenient

Of course, it is suboptimal if the left does not know what the right is doing. But transparency can also be quite uncomfortable.
This was not clear to Ms. Team at the beginning. But when we started working with the sprint wall, where everyone could see all the tasks with the name of the person working on them and you could hear who had completed what every morning in the daily scrum, a certain amount of pressure arose in the team. Now it was completely transparent what a team member had and had not done.



The mood was not always positive and there were statements such as: “Xy doesn’t do enough” or “It’s always the same people who really go the extra mile – the rest make a fool of themselves”. When such moods arise during a change, it is very important to pay attention to them! This requires a very well-trained Scrum Master who is able to support the people in the team so that goodwill arises. Ultimately, it should be assumed that everyone in the team also wants to achieve something.
If a team member complains that someone is not doing enough, this may be the case, but such assumptions tend to be detrimental to the atmosphere. There may or may not be something to it. And it is important to bear in mind that some tasks can only be completed slowly and simply take longer. Because even if it is completely transparent who does what and when, this does not mean that it is clear why someone needs longer or was able to do less. This requires a sure instinct on the part of the Scrum Master.

Not everyone wants to take responsibility

Self-organized working methods are considered positive and motivating. Without hierarchy and traditional management, there is equality and it means that employees develop within this framework and are absorbed in their work. Many companies rely on self-organization to attract new employees and increase employer effectiveness.
But are self-organization methods really good for everyone?



Our experience has shown that self-organization does not suit everyone. Many employees are happy to be told exactly what to do. Some people feel overwhelmed when they have to make decisions – it scares them, they don’t feel comfortable with it. It may well be that after a year of self-organization, such an attitude turns into joy at the independence you have gained, but you also have to accept that there are people who simply don’t enjoy acting independently.
This was also the case in Mr. Ms.’s company: some employees left the company. This was a shame at first and of course it was difficult to find new employees, but in retrospect it became clear that the employees who had left would not have fitted in with the new way of working.
Introducing such a new form of organization is a really big step. The risks of emigration must be weighed up, especially in sectors where there is a shortage of personnel.



Titles are important to some

And last but not least: If you want to change your company in the direction of self-organization, this means flattening hierarchies, establishing a level playing field and a new understanding of leadership. This new understanding of leadership moves away from traditional management, which distributes tasks and monitors their completion. Here, leadership no longer means being above the employees in the hierarchy, but rather supporting them and being available as a service, help and “enabler” for the employees.
This raises the question: What does this do to those who were previously traditional managers? It may well be that the manager feels disempowered and is therefore not very positive about the change.
In many sectors, for example the real estate industry, it is important to have high-sounding titles on your business card. To make yourself attractive to potential employees, you simply invent a director or a member of the management. But what if this is suddenly abolished? For people who are attracted to hierarchy and titles, this is of course not particularly attractive. In addition, without hierarchies there is no opportunity for advancement, which does not fit into everyone’s career concept.



Put yourself in the shoes of long-established managers when introducing Scrum: From now on, the team will decide what you have decided so far. Your ability and title as a manager is simply no longer needed. You may still be able to act as a scrum master and take over the moderation of the team, but as a traditional manager you are not really suitable for this. – It is no wonder that in such a situation one or two employees from management leave the company.
This is what happened in Mr. Ms.’s company: Those who were enthusiastic about a stripe on the epaulette moved away.

Decide at the recruiting stage how your company should become!

It is important to think about whether you want to hire employees who value power and responsibility when recruiting. Do you want such a company? This is a fundamental decision.
There are quite a few companies that do a good job of creating management positions for those they want to bring on board. Of course, the number of management positions in a company is limited. In traditional hierarchies, not everyone can become a manager: the higher you go, the thinner the air becomes.
For people who want to climb the career ladder, it is of fundamental importance that there are still a few steps up.
However, the path to the top does not exist with Scrum or other forms of self-organization – everyone is on the same level and rocks the task together. This is a completely different corporate culture. And of course you will attract different people than with a classically managed organization.
It is worth reflecting on this before you bring new employees into the company.




Scrum in practice: Conclusion

As you can see, Mr. M. achieved his goals – his team gained momentum and began to organize itself, which enabled Mr. M. to take care of the management of the company. In addition, the results and thus customer satisfaction improved.
However, this change was not without its difficulties – there was also a bad mood and employees left the company.
For Mr. M. and his company, however, this change has paid off.
If you are also thinking about introducing Scrum in your company, make sure that this change is carefully managed step by step. Get experienced support so that you can identify obstacles in good time and find solutions.
Feel free to contact us!


Read more….

If you are interested in the topic of Scrum in practice, then we have some more reading for you.

Found on the net

Our articles on the topic of Scrum in practice

We have already published several articles on the topic of agility. Here is an overview for you:
Read our tips on how to successfully initiate change in your company:
Change Manager: Leading change successfully – definition, background, tips

The authors

Oliver Grätsch
Michelle 550
Michelle Templin
Christian Grätsch
Matthias Beikert
Susanne Grätsch
Monika Bt 550x550
Monika Steininger
Kai Hübner
Philipp Andresen 500x550
Philipp Andresen
Anna Isabell Arendt
Dr. Claudia Schmidt
Inga Kühn
Kassandra Knebel
Claudia Lehmann
Komplettes Team

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