The Elegance of Scrum as Defined by BART Analysis

May 1, 2012

Not all adoptions begin with ideal staffing. At one point in time I was both a development manager and a Product Owner for one of our teams. Was this ideal? No. Does something like this happen in real life? Sure.

If you choose to operate where there is role overlap, make sure that you are clear about what role you are “playing” when dealing with questions or issues. For example, as a development manager it was fair game for me to discuss the design and implementation of the code with developers on the team who sought out my advice, but not so if I was operating as a Product Owner. I always called which hat I was wearing before diving in.

I made sure that I did because I didn’t want to cause confusion later, when we found a dedicated Product Owner for the team. I understood the boundaries, authorities, roles and tasks (BART) that should be respected for proper execution of the Scrum framework, and I wanted the team to understand them as well.

I was introduced to BART by Dan Mezick (listening to him speak about BART analysis more than once at agile events in Boston), which is a system for group analysis developed by Zachary Gabriel Green and RenĂ© J. Molenkamp. BART analysis is a useful tool for understanding why Scrum works – and what you should understand before you start tinkering with it.

As a framework, Scrum is very effective because it addresses the elements of productive teamwork are articulated nicely in the book, The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith:
"Team members must agree on who will do particular jobs, how schedules will be set and adhered to, what skills need to be developed, how continuing membership is to be earned, and how the group will make and modify decisions, including how and when to modify its approach to getting the job done."
Teams save time by implementing Scrum because they can quickly learn and implement the Scrum framework. Scrum defines the roles and protocols of team interaction so that teams don’t have to develop these each time for themselves, and once you apply BART analysis against the Scrum framework, you recognize the elegance of Scrum’s design.

The Scrum framework is both simple and powerful, which is due to it being crystal clear on each of the BART attributes:
  • The Scrum Roles are clearly defined.
  • The Boundaries between the Roles are clearly defined.
  • The Authority granted to each Role is clear.
  • Tasks are clearly defined.
Clarity is important because when these definitions are unclear there will be wasted time and effort due to confusion and contention. Consider what would happen if roles or tasks overlapped, or there wasn’t clarity on the tasks each that each role is responsible for. For a team to be productive, these issues would need to be worked out.

BART is a useful tool for managers to understand how other violations create confusion, like when a manager assigns tasks to Scrum team members. Yet this is what a traditional manager is used to doing! By providing an understanding of the Scrum framework coupled with an understanding of BART analysis, managers are equipped to understand why certain behaviors should be avoided.

Overall, BART analysis provides additional insight that is useful developing a deeper understanding of how and why the Scrum framework works. And for anyone considering tinkering with the workings of Scrum related to boundaries, authorities, roles, and tasks, it is worth keeping BART analysis in mind so that you don’t create overlap or confusion.

For additional information on BART analysis as it relates to Scrum, I refer you to Dan Mezick’s Agile2009 presentation.