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October 20, 2009


The concept linking the three is the pursuit of simplicity and the elimination of complexity. The defining characteristic of Scrum, based on my experience, was it's simplicity; there's just so darn little to it, there isn't much room for misinterpretation, and therefore easy to get right. I have no first hand knowledge of Bikram, but it sounds like the same formula. There are lots of great examples of concepts succeeding because of their simplicity; the iPod is the classic example. It invented nothing, but was wildly successful because it was simple, and it worked. The products from 37signals (www.37signals.com) are also good examples.

I'm reminded of Antoine do Saint-Exupéry, who I believe said; "Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away."

Great post as always Mike.

As you rightly point out, known entities inspire buying confidence. There are now a great number of stories and evidence that the implementation of Scrum in development and non-development shops alike, can bring great benefits. Making it easily digestible is a key in selling it, and the simplicity of Scrum itself helps.

As for keeping a balance, the simple model with plugins you mention is I feel the best way to go. At the heart you have Scrum, and from there you have all of the additional Agile practices - TDD, pair programming, etc. Finding what works best in the context of the company is key. So, while we work for #2, we sell #1, knowing full well that ultimately what we deliver will be option #2, the hybrid approach. Leading with simplicity will get us in the door.

Mike, this is an insightful post, and it applies not only to Scrum but to so many products or services. It demonstrates the power of packaged solutions, and it also suggests the power of branding. The best brands foster deep trust as well as a certain buzz, and Scrum fits that description. I share the conflict over the balancing act in training. While many people want the packaged solution in the form of a recipe, it is important to understand the principles behind the recipe. Otherwise there are times when the following the recipe will not lead to the best results.

Hi Terence,

I agree the pursuit of simplicity and elimination of complexity is a great thing. I have some concerns that if we have a beautifully crafted and perfectly balanced hammer then a lot of our problems begin to look like nails, but this is really a separate issue about inappropriate use. I love your iPod example, that is a perfect illustration of the success of simplicity. Thanks for your comment.


Hi Robert,

Thanks for your post and “Leading with simplicity” sums up the issue perfectly. I think selling the simple #1 knowing we will likely implement the hybrid #2 is realistic. It feels a little bait-and-switch, but certainly eases the acceptance, which for many companies is still a barrier to adoption.


Hi Michael,

Yes, this is my conflict, a concern that the packaged solution masks the principles behind the recipe. For simple applications the process it can be duplicated successfully, but when the client needs the gluten-free version or we need to cook on an open fire we get disappointing results and people blame the chef’s recipe. Perhaps wanting to teach the principles first is unrealistic for all audiences, I guess demonstrating success with a simple approach and then hoping this will foster more interest and learning is an appropriate way to go too. It seems to me that simplicity is seductive, plug-in options are a practical approach, and an appreciation of the principles is our end goal.

Best regards

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