Why empirical process control is insufficient to do Scrum well

This post continues my series on Getting Back to the Original Scrum.

Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empirical process control means to try something, see what happens and adjust your actions based on this feedback.

There is no model (theory) underneath these practices. That is, you don’t make predictions based on an underlying theory you just see what happens (inspect) and then adapt to this feedback. This is why Scrum requires performing a Sprint to be able to see your impediments.

A more effective approach is to use the scientific approach by making hypotheses based on Flow & Lean thinking. We still, of course, use feedback to validate our hypotheses. Essentially we use the Deming Cycle of Plan Do Study Adjust understanding Adjust process.

The challenge with just using empirical process control is when one of Scrum’s immutable roles, rules, artifacts or events doesn’t or can’t be made to work, there is no method to work towards it. Even when possible some teams don’t know how. This often leads to teams abandoning practices of Scrum because the team doesn’t know how to get a Scrum component working. With Flow and Lean underneath Scrum, teams can figure out what to do, although it may not exactly be Scrum, it will meet its intent.


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