Why you MUST apply your thinking OUTSIDE of work, INSIDE of work – Scrum shouts Empiricism!

We deal with uncertainty all of the time.

Everyday in our lives, there is a ALLOT more uncertainty than there is certainty.

You don’t think so?


Is that train ALWAYS on time to get you into work?

Are all of your peers and co-workers 100% sure to be in that day, no illness, no unexpected issues?

Would you bet your monthly salary that your favourite sandwich will be available for you that lunch time?

Look, most of these things usually go our way.


There is always an uncertainty that we are living with – the scale of uncertainty of course varies.

In software, we’re talking about ALLOT of uncertainty.

And there lies the problem with Scrum adoptions & transformations.

The misunderstanding that senior managers have of software development.

If time & budget is agreed but something changes, all hell can brake lose.

“I thought Scrum was meant to fix this”

“I thought Scrum was to make us get what we want”

“What do you mean Scrum doesn’t stop things from changing”

These are some of the misunderstandings I encounter all of the time with Senior Managers.

So before I even talk about Scrum, the first thing I do is educate on empiricism.

If we are using predictiveness to manage our projects then you may as well forget about Scrum.


“The right process will create the right outcome. The wrong process will create the wrong outcome” Sutherland

So, let’s talk basic empiricism.

Empiricism is when there is a lot more that you don’t know vs what you do know.

So, you do a little bit of something (sprint anyone?), take the results (show & tell sounds a good place for this 🙂 and feed it back into your plan (ah yes roadmap management)

That’s what Scrum does right?

It allows you to keep empiricism alive through it’s events & mindset.


Before you talk Scrum to the head honcho – you need to educate on empiricism.

If you are a senior manager reading this, or if you are any kind of change agent that is trying to push any agile approach (which all are built on empiricism since we’re delivering software) I would like you to answer the below questions.

And answer them honestly.

I want to see how you accept empiricism in your every day life – but are inconsistent when it comes to your work place.

Go ahead & answer – I am willing to bet my months wage that 2 out of 3 answers will be option C. And if not, you’re lying 🙂


You’re feeling lazy and peckish so you grab some pre-made Aunt Bessies Lemon Drizzle loaf cake.

Baking tray, check, crack a couple of eggs, mix & as per instructions “Bake for 30 minutes”

Before you serve it, check that the centre  of the cake is cooked.

If the centre of the cake is soggy after 30 minutes -which of the following options do you pick?

a. Eat the soggy cake

b. Throw yourself onto the floor & cry

c. Let the cake cook until it’s ready


It’s Saturday night & you’re looking forward to watching your favourite movie.

The tv schedule states that it begins at  9:35pm, however the world cup is being played before the movie.

If the game goes to penalties, the movie may start later.

If the final goes to penalties & your movie has not started, which option do you pick?

a. Phone the bosses at ITV & complain

b. Throw yourself onto the floor & cry

c. Wait for the penalties to finish & watch your movie


You were preparing a meal & you cut your finger, pretty badly 😦

The doctor tells you it should be ok, and healing time is around a week.

He also advises to keep an eye on it if it turns green & to come right back.

If your finger turned green would you:

a. Phone the doctor & complain yelling “You told me it should be ok you bloody liar!”

b. Throw yourself onto the floor & cry

c. Go back to the doctors & get it sorted


So we accept empiricism in our everyday life.  We have a plan, we do something, we see if that something is going to plan and if it is not we then take the best action we can.

Aka Scrum – we Inspect & Adapt.

So why are you willing to accept empiricism in your every day life but have a problem with it when it comes to software delivery?

Oh, was your reply :

“Because I am paying you for it”

Well, in that case I’ll dress up as Mystic Meg, supply me with a crystal ball & some tarot cards then yes….. you are right, money should solve the problem.

Right process, right outcome (empiricism)

Wrong process, wrong outcome (Predictiveness)


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