A New Definition of Insanity

By Angela Johnson, CST

In Certified ScrumMaster courses I find myself using the old saying “The Definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Agile approaches such as Scrum are completely different ways of doing work. Yet so many organizations today do not understand this.

Jeff Sutherland created Scrum largely because the traditional way of doing work or “Waterfall” physically delays any business value to the customer. Scrum and other Agile methods deliver value much quicker if used as a directed.

So why do organizations insist on continuing to follow the same, old, system development life cycles or build cycles that they were using 20-30 years ago? I call this the New Definition of Insanity since all they have changed is their vocabulary. They say things like Daily Scrum or Product Owner, ScrumMaster, Sprint but in reality have not gotten something shippable into a customer’s hands any faster than the way they had been working.

If work is not done during a Sprint there are constructs in Scrum to get to the root cause of this and to prevent this from happening again. Yet so many organizations report they simply “carry work over” to the next Sprint. Working in their old Waterfall ways.

In this day and age of Google, Amazon and Zappos delighting the customer is key. If organizations cannot deliver value to their customers, someone else will. Are you working the same old way but using new words to describe it?

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