The case against SAFe, DAD, LeSS SCRUM in 60 seconds. It’s time to try something else

To the C-levels of this world – before you go Agile and invest money in SAFe, DAD or LeSS, you need to read this. All these approaches are based on a methodology called SCRUM which is bad news for your employees. Why?


SCRUM forces change in the way people work, introducing rigid process, mandatory meetings and role changes. People hate being told what to do. Experts even more. Would you hire the world’s best staff and tell them what to do? Do the world’s best sports coaches like Sir Dave Brailsford, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Clive Woodward tell their players how to do the basics in their respective jobs? No.


Committees are great for brainstorming and gathering requirements but for many other things, they just waste time and create sub-optimal results. If you have been on an MBA course, you will no doubt have have heard of a concept called Groupthink. It kills the creativity of your best people.


To meet the constraints imposed by SCRUM, your developers will need to pull off some magic. They do this by increasing your product’s technical debt. It’s called this for a reason. If you keep borrowing more and more money what happens? The interest gets higher and higher and eventually you get to a point where you can’t pay it off. Then they start proceedings to repossess your home.


Would you trust a builder to build you a new home even if they don’t show you a plan of what it will look like? Would you buy a house where the builders build the shell of the house first and put the foundations in later on?


SCRUM is aligned with a software development methodology called XP or Extreme Programming. Extreme means it’s not for everyone. You need to be damn good at what you do, slightly crazy and above all an adrenalin junkie. Most employees just prefer to do a 9 till 5 and go home.


SCRUM is based on sprints. Did you enjoy shuttle runs when you were at school? What happens if you carry on sprinting? If all you do is sprint, you will burn out, get sick and eventually collapse in a heap. We all need variety in our jobs.


With SCRUM, the following quote comes to mind:

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”— Albert Einstein

Stop the clock. My 60 seconds are up!

Another 60 seconds

This is a viewpoint based on experience but also on the opinions of people who have successfully made SCRUM work for them.

On the request of a number of SCRUM/agile coaches, who obviously find these opinions difficult to accept, I am happy to state that these outcomes were not the intention of those who invented the methodology. SCRUM can also be done well and when it does work well, people do enjoy it. However the manual is open to interpretation and more often than not, it can be implemented without any regard for the organisation’s culture, the team or the individuals that comprise it. This is the risk you take.

If bad SCRUM, can do this to a team, what sort of damage can SAFe, DAD and LeSS do to your company?

Contrary to many of the comments on this article, this is in no way stretching the truth. It is in fact a viewpoint backed up by various commentators:

If you find that SCRUM is creating problems for your company, there are alternatives:

A good agile coach will be able to help to find a solution. How do you find a good one and avoid a bad one?

The aim of this article is to stimulate independent and critical thinking on the subject of agile methodologies. They are regularly sold as a panacea so it is important that decision makers obtain a more balanced point of view.