Why Scrum is difficult to Master


In today’s fast-paced digital era, the need for efficient product and project management approaches is more important than ever. Scrum, offers help for teams navigating the complexities of product development. With a plethora of agile tools available, Scrum has emerged as the frontrunner. Its principles, while seemingly straightforward, have proven challenging for many to master, leading to a bunch of discussions on its intricacies and difficulties.

This article will explain why Scrum is difficult to master – in summary:

  • it is lightweight, i.e. left intentinally incomplete (it has to be adjusted to context)
  • it requires organizational change
  • it often involves technical challenges.

What is Scrum?

At its core, Scrum is a product management framework designed to facilitate the development and maintenance of complex products. It’s not just another buzzword in the tech industry; it’s a transformative approach to product development.

Central to the Scrum methodology is the Product Backlog. Think of it as a dynamic to-do list, prioritizing product needs. This backlog is instrumental in guiding the Scrum team’s activities, ensuring that the most critical tasks are addressed first.

Product development in Scrum is divided into Sprints, or iterations. These are short, intense bursts of work, each lasting up to four weeks.

scrum learning difficult to master presentation
Scrum is simple to learn but difficult to master – so you probably need training and coaching.

At the start of each Sprint, the Scrum team gets together, selecting tasks from the Product Backlog. These tasks, chosen based on their priority (and relation to a Sprint Goal), become the focus for the upcoming Sprint.

Once completed, the team reviews their progress, refines the backlog if necessary, and then jumps into the next Sprint, ensuring a continuous cycle of product improvement and enhancement.

Why Scrum is Difficult to Master?

Scrum’s widespread adoption doesn’t make it a walk in the park. Its value is undeniable, but its implementation is riddled with challenges.

Scrum is characterized by its:

  • Lightweight nature. This makes it flexible but also demanding. It’s not about adding layers of bureaucracy but about streamlining processes.
  • Simplicity in understanding. The core principles are easy to grasp, but the devil is in the details.
  • Difficulty in mastering. This is where many stumble. Applying Scrum’s principles in real-world scenarios requires a deep understanding and commitment.

Cultural challenges

One of the primary challenges in adopting Scrum is the cultural shift it demands. Traditional teams operate in silos, with each department having defined roles and responsibilities. Scrum challenges this status quo, advocating for a more collaborative approach.

This means that Scrum roles often have broader responsibilities than those in traditional setups. For instance, developers in a Scrum team don’t just “write code”. They’re involved in planning, estimating, and even understanding business requirements. A developer in Scrum is a “product developer”, not a “software developer” (even if it is a software product!).


The adaptive nature of Scrum also requires a significant amount of skill and judgment. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Teams need to continuously adjust their approach based on ongoing project observations. This dynamic nature of Scrum often necessitates an organizational transformation, breaking down existing silos and fostering a collaborative environment.

Technical challenges and practices

Scrum requires a team to produce

Ten Agile Success Strategies

Transitioning to Scrum and other agile methodologies requires more than just understanding the basics. Here are ten strategies, derived from various sources, that can pave the way for a successful agile transformation:

  • Secure Management Commitment: Before embarking on the agile journey, ensure that the management is on board. Their support is crucial for the transition. They need to recognize that there will be some uncomfortable changes required for Scrum to work, including ones involving them!
  • Empower Your Team: Trust is the foundation of Scrum. Make sure the team has the autonomy to make decisions around their product and its direction. But also their work and technical practices.
  • Understand the Collaborative Culture: Foster a culture where business representatives actively participate in the development process. No throwing requirements over the wall to the developers! A product owner embedded inside the Scrum team is a key part of this.
  • Embrace Agile Methods: Commit fully to the agile approach for maximum benefits. Half-hearted attempts can do more harm than good. If a Scrum team gets handed 100 requirements and a 6 month deadline and told to work in sprints, that’s a Waterfall project, not Scrum.
  • Develop a Roadmap and Initial Plans: While agile is adaptive, having a roadmap provides direction. It acts as a compass, guiding the team through uncertain terrains. See what the Scrum Guide says here about a “Product Goal”.
  • Acquire an Agile Coach to train and coach the Team: An experienced coach can provide invaluable insights, helping the team navigate common pitfalls. A bit of up-front training is good, but longer-term coaching mentoring is usually needed.
  • Start Small and Gain Early Successes: Showcase the benefits of agile through early wins. This can boost morale and garner support from skeptics.
  • Establish Agile Performance Measures: Traditional metrics might not cut it. Focus on measures that reflect the agile mindset. See more about agile metrics here.
  • Create Agile Contracts: Shift from defining “what” will be delivered to “how” it will be delivered. This fosters a collaborative approach with stakeholders.
  • Adopt ALM tools to Facilitate Interactions: Use tools that integrate agile processes for better governance. You can find out about the best free Scrum tools here.

Transitioning to agile: ten success strategies by Carilli, J. F. PMI® Global Congress 2013 offers a deeper dive into these strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Scrum easy to understand but difficult to master?
    • While Scrum is straightforward in its principles, mastering it requires experimentation, learning from failures, and self-reflection.
  • Why is Scrum seen as difficult?
    • Scrum’s lightweight framework and procedural flexibility make it challenging for some to master. It’s not about following a set script but adapting to the unique challenges of each project.
  • Is Scrum hard to implement?
    • Implementation is not inherently difficult, but it requires an open mindset and a focus on the product’s maximal added value. Resistance to change can be a significant hurdle.


Mastering Scrum is a journey, not a destination. Its principles, while seeming simple, require a deep understanding and commitment to be effectively implemented. As with any transformative process, the journey to mastering Scrum is filled with both learning opportunities and pitfalls. By recognizing the challenges, investing in training, and building a genuinely collaborative culture, organizations can harness the true power of Scrum.

Remember, as highlighted in the LinkedIn Article: Yes, Scrum is Easy to Understand but Difficult to Master, the key lies in continuous improvement and adaptation. And for those looking for tools to aid in this journey, platforms like Visual Paradigm: Scrum Process Canvas can be invaluable resources.

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