Scrum: the lean & mean development approach

SCRUM is a modern approach to project management. What is different then compared to a more conventional approach? Were there reasons to change? And how does Scrum work? Let’s get to the three nut shells of the WHAT, WHY and HOW of Scrum!


  • Like in conventional project management, Scrum is a step-wise approach to drive progress in projects.
  • Common steps in development are: define, arrange, build, deliver (to market / stakeholder). However, the conventional approach has the full blown plan in mind, and will take the required time to define all of that, arrange all of that, etc.
  • Scrum will search for the most basic version of the plan, list all possible add-ons, and define, arrange, build and deliver more or less independent “increments” (parts) of the plan.


  • You get much quicker to action, and are much earlier on the market.
  • You need a lot less initial investments and thus funding.
  • You are learning from experience and intermediate stakeholder feedback, so further development is in line with what stakeholders really want.


  • Arrange small, capable teams (6 members, adjust according to complexity).
  • Have/create a list of project parts that can be developed more or less independently (the “backlog”).
  • Pick something from the backlog, e.g. based on stakeholder needs, determine what to build, with a “definition of done”.
  • Commit to elaborating this chunk during a “sprint”, a 2-week period of dedicated work.
  • Have daily “stand-ups” (not comedians): 15-minute updates in which the team members give an update of where they’re at, what needs to be resolved, what they’re about to do.
  • Keep driving discipline as to get it done on time. Once finished, handover to the critical stakeholder and capture feedback.
  • Repeat.

Not all projects can be done Scrum-style. For instance, you’d rather want a nuclear facility to be built in an integral, good ol’ rock solid approach from beginning till end. But more projects than you might think could learn from it. In fact, a popular current thought is that start-up should adopt the principles as well (see e.g. “The Lean Start-up”). Think about the increased ease and other benefits … could you apply Scrum in different areas of your life?

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