image: © Richard Vignola (CC BY-NC-ND)

Did you know that Scrum originated from extensive work on waterfall software development methodologies? This story tells you how.

Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the founders of Scrum, were friends before they started working on Scrum. Jeff was working with OOPSLA to find the best software development method for developing object-oriented software. Ken Schwaber owned a company that developed ALM (application life cycle management) software to support waterfall processes at large companies like IBM. Jeff asked Ken for some advice on the work he was doing.

He asked Ken which methodology he used at his company for developing his company’s ALM tooling:

I use absolutely none of [of those methodologies] Jeff. If I’d be using anyone of them I’d be out of business. We need to be very flexible and respond to change […]

Ken Schwaber, on using a software development methodology in 1995-ish

In response, Jeff invited Ken to work on Scrum together. This resulted in the OOPSLA paper on Scrum published in 1995, which is generally referred to as the first written reference on Scrum.

Want to know more about the birthplace of Scrum? Check out this AgileFM podcast with Ken Schwaber.


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