The original idea of Scrum came from a 1986 HBR article “The New New Product Development Game“, written by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. The teams at Toyota and elsewhere reminded Takeuchi and Nonaka of the game of rugby and they called this style of project management “Scrum,” a short form of the term “scrummage” where the game is restarted when the ball has gone out of play.

So what’s so significant about Scrum? Why do we call it Scrum and not Cricket, Swimming or some other game?

It’s just because in rugby Scrum, the ball gets passed within the team as it moves as a unit up the field. Scrum is all about everyone doing everything all the time. It’s an important point to remember as otherwise Scrum becomes yet another framework with 4 ceremonies, 3 roles and 3 artefacts.

The foundation of Scrum encourage one-piece continuous flow. So in a daily Scrum, instead of answering 3 daily Scrum questions, team looks at the Scrum board and plans on how to swarm to finish the top story on the board.

It may happen, depending upon the tasks identified for a story, 3-4 people decide to swarm and finish it. And then the rest of the team picks the next story. Daily Scrum is a sprint planning in small. You replan the sprint every day.

If team is working like this, there should be maximum 2-3 stories (depending upon size) in progress at any point of time, depending upon the size of the story.

So you see, if team decides to swarm, one doesn’t require WIP limits anymore. The team focuses on finishing existing ones before picking anything new.

As we discussed the key idea of swarming here, it’s important to understand that the idea of every team member picking one individual story to work on doesn’t really work. It blocks the delivery pipeline as any story a tester may work on comes after a week or so.

At that point of time, a tester may get multiple stories to test and may become bottleneck as there may be too many things to work on. That kind of scenario is not the ideal state of flow but is more like a Scrumfall in which work arrives in a batch after a period of time.