All We Are Saying is Give Scrum a Chance

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Maybe I’m incredibly behind the hairball on this one, but this week I was working at a colleague’s house on a major project (exciting!) and he had a conference call with his employees. Now, my buddy is a programmer by trade and as I’ve learned over the years, programmers think way way way differently than editorial folks.

For example, back at The Onion, one of my developer colleagues was trying to explain something to me and said, “It’s just like when you’re doing the dishes — you wash each one right after you dirty it.” And I said, “Actually, I let them pile up and just toss ‘em in the dishwasher.”

Yeah. So, that’s why I’m going to assume that most non-developers haven’t heard of this: the scrum call. It’s a 20-minute call where, according to my colleague, everyone has a few minutes to discuss what they’ve done since the last call (these are done weekly) and what they plan on doing in the following week. If anything takes longer than a few minutes to get into, that person will follow up via email with those in the workflow they need to finish that work. If no one is needed for it, then, great, carry on and tell people about it next week when it’s done.

I am loathe to quote Wikipedia, but since I don’t have much of a point of reference, the communal encyclopedia says that scrum is “an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing software projects and product or application development.” It’s meant to replace the old-school sequential approach to finish work as a team and instead place emphasis on working as a team towards a common goal.

And as someone who has spent far too much time on obligatory conference calls where attendees were told to be on mute and just listen as our direct manager delivers news from the higher-ups down to us, this is incredibly efficient and thoughtful. The way I’ve had conference calls before, if someone had an issue, they’d be told to stay on after the call and talk one-on-one with the manager, which is dumb because no one else will get the benefit of that person’s issue and how the team is being told to deal with it.

Anyway. Yeah. Give scrum a chance. It’ll change your life forever and make you more popular. Guaranteed. 

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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