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Ingo Kallenbach

Leadership in an agile world (3): scrum

How srum can make your project management agile and identify problems faster

In the second part of our series we would like to introduce you to one of the best known and currently most frequently used methods in agile project management: "scrum". The method is characterised above all by its simple structure and clearly defined roles. In this way, scrum can be learned quickly and immediately implemented productively.
We have also been relying on an approach adapted to our needs for many years. The principles of self-management and individual potential development of scrum are perfectly in line with our approach of a healthy organization. But one step back - what is scrum, how does it work and how can you use this method for your company?

What is scrum?

In the German edition of the "Scrum Guide" the authors Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland describe the method as follows: "A framework within which people can tackle complex adaptive tasks, enabling them to deliverproducts with the highest possible value productively and creatively (Schwaber & Sutherland 2013).

In its origin, the term comes from the sport of rugby and describes a play. In transfer to project management, this means the flexible adaptation of work processes to dynamic conditions, similar to the design of tactical moves according to the last action of the opponent.

However, scrum neither provides an exact description of a process nor a concrete technique for creating products, but is rather to be understood as an agile framework for action. Within this framework,  self-organized and interdisciplinary scrum teams act.

These teams design the necessary work processes autonomously and independently and determine how goals can be achieved. The interdisciplinary nature of the teams guarantees that they are equipped with all the skills and resources required to create a product. The iterative and incremental approach of scrum means that risks can be identified and reduced more quickly and results can also be optimized.

How does scrum work?

Scrum defines three clearly defined roles within the teams with clear areas of responsibility. The teams consist of the product manager, the self-managing development team and the scrum master.

The product owner is responsible for assigning and prioritizing tasks in the role of the principal. He formulates, communicates and controls the product backlog, which essentially represents a list of requirements and changes to the product that serves as a point of orientation for the development process.

The development teams consist of experts and specialists who create the product within a certain period of time.

The scrum master is used to help shape the organization-wide introduction of scrum, to monitor compliance with practices and rules and to explain scrum techniques and methods. He also supports the development team by removing obstacles and optimizing collaboration within the team.

The development cycles, so-called sprints, cover a maximum period of one month during which a finished and potentially deliverable product increment is to be produced. Each sprint has a clearly formulated goal and a fixed quality standard. The entire project is realized by several sprints in direct succession, taking into account possible changes and adaptations.

Before, after, between and during the sprints, regular meetings are held, for example to plan the next sprint, such as the sprint planning before the next cycle. Or the daily scrum, where feedback on daily progress is given and possible obstacles in the work process can be removed directly.

Bild Scrum


Design your agile project management with scrum

In the VUCA world, scrum has the potential to adequately respond to the constantly changing challenges in an increasingly digitized working world. A long-term and thus rigid project management can be replaced by short-term, flexible and adaptable development cycles.

Instead of detailed preliminary planning, as in classical project management, iterative work is carried out here, i.e. step by step in repetitive cycles. This approach has the clear advantage of being able to react immediately to short-term changes and problems.

The focus of this method is on the independent self-organization of the scrum team, as the product manager only has a moderator role. These flat hierarchies and the clear distribution of roles among the respective areas of responsibility create a high degree of transparency, promote relationships at eye level and simplify the exchange of information.


Scrum is relatively easy to learn and can therefore be quickly integrated into everyday work. This method provides the first step towards agile project management, which does not pose a major hurdle for your employees.

The clearly defined roles and the division into several cycles guarantee a well-structured yet flexible development process. Scrum is particularly suitable for projects that require a high degree of flexibility and adaptation due to the circumstances of the end product and the customer's wishes.

Of course there are traps. This means that not only techniques are needed, but also a suitable basic attitude that does justice to agile action. Not everyone likes the transparency associated with scrum, the necessary flexibility and the possibility of self-organization.

Often the mind-set factor is completely underestimated at the beginning. Organizations then introduce agile methods, often combined with wonderful, cool workspaces, but pay far too little attention to the further development of attitude and behavior. In the best case, the factors tool-set, skill-set and mind-set are therefore equally considered and successively further developed during the introduction of scrum.

(editorial realisation: Corinna Brucker)

Are you interested in scrum or would you like to learn more about this method? Then please inform yourself about our services in this area or simply contact us.


Further blog posts from the series "Leadership in an agile world":

Leading in an agile world (1): the concept of agility

Leadership in an agile world (2): "working out loud"

Leadership in an agile world (3): scrum

Leadership in an agile world (4): barcamps

Leadership in an agile world (5): retrospectives

Leadership in an agile world (6): peer feedback

Leadership in an agile world (7): transparency

Leadership in an agile world (8): Delegation Poker

Leadership in an agile world (9): crossfunctional teams

Leadership in an agile world (10): face time



Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland (2017): The Scrum Guide.