Scrum’s 50% failure rate?

So in a class today I was flipping through the materials and saw this:


What does one make of such a statement? If this statement is true, then using Scrum as a methodology isn’t better than flipping a coin. Half the time it works, the other half it doesn’t. If your methodology choice is functionally equivalent to coin flipping, then the methodology necessarily doesn’t add value. Now sure, you could argue that if you’re on the failing side of the equation that you’re “doing it wrong”, but some consideration should be given to the idea that choosing a methodology (any methodology) is no predictor of success. All that said, even one of the original signers of the Agile manifesto is still obligated to produce data to show this is so. It’s an incredibly broad generalization.

The other thing is that the second part of his statement is far less specific. “Bad Scrum” is a “major cause”? What does major mean in this case? 50%? 25%? Something else? If half your projects are failing is resolving the bad scrum whatever that may mean going to make all of them not fail? Unlikely. We can reasonably assume that regardless of how well you do a process that under some circumstances it will fail, so how far will fixing bad scrum take us. It’s very hard to say from this statement.

From a trusting there’s analysis underlying these statements, I’d by far rather hear something like “in a recent study of N projects, 50% failed [how did they fail?]. Of the failures, N% can be attributed to ‘bad scrum’.” Sure, it doesn’t read like a nice little sound bite you can put onto a slide in a training deck, but it’s far more complete and far more useful to the reader to understand what the opportunity is for fixing the problem.

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