Extremely Difficult to Master and Simple to Understand

If you look at the following three points to make a connection;

  • Lightweight
  • Simple to understand
  • Extremely difficult to master

I am sure you will be bit confused. If you look at the points, you will see that “Lightweight” and “Simple to understand” would be in the same bucket where as “Extremely difficult to master” may not go in hand with first two. Or at least this was my reaction.

I am pretty sure, most of you will understand what I am hanging here about. The above are the three characteristics of scrum as defined in the scrum guide by the authors of scrum.

I was confused with the question that “if scrum is simple to understand why it is extremely difficult to master?” If something is simple, then it should be very easy to master. Think about solving a simple math puzzle. If the puzzle level is simple then you can be a master of it.

Thinking hard on this, I figured out my rational for each of these characteristics of Scrum. Let us discuss each of these points in little bit details.


Unlike RUP, you don’t have to follow heavy processes in the Scrum. A simple set of meetings, very few tools, with three roles defined, Scrum is not a descriptive process (for that matter Scrum is a process framework). It is very light weight when it comes to the processes that are available today. Comparing to PMBOK 42 processes, CMMI Process area/groups, etc. Scrum is really light weight.

Simple to understand

I am pretty sure that you can and will read the scrum guide in-one-go. There are not many books written explaining “What is Scrum”. There is no such need for those books. Scrum is simple; you don’t need to break your neck to understand what is there in Scrum, what is going to happen at scrum meeting, sprint planning meeting, etc. If you have some idea of software development, what you need to understand scrum is to read the scrum guide. Nobody needs to explain it in detail. (Of course you need to select the correct resources to read – Scrum guide should be the first thing somebody should read first)

Extremely difficult to master

Well this third point regarding scrum does not seems to follow the first two points. At least it was the thought I had when I read these three points first time. If Scrum is lightweight and simple to understand, why it is extremely difficult to master? That doesn’t seems to be rational for me.

When thinking further, I realized that lightweight and simple to understand make the scrum less prescriptive and less rule oriented. This lead to a situation where there are many ways of implementing Scrum. These many alternatives would lead to different results as well as the confusion over what to select.

To explain further, at any given time there are many ways how you can implement scrum (due to lightweight) and you cannot master what would be the best cause of action to follow to a given situation.

If Scrum was like RUP, where there are many rules, roles, artifacts, etc. to follow, then it is difficult to understand (due to many things to learn). But if you learn all of these things correctly, you are the master. You just need to get the training for RUP and if you do it well there, then you are the master.

The Scrum seems to be in the other end of this scale. There is nothing much to learn about scrum but since there are no strict rules, it is up to the individuals to select and decided what to do. Therefore selecting what is best  would require tremendous experiences, exposure, failures, etc. which is why the Scrum is extremely difficult to master.

Even Certified Scrum Master training does no guarantee that you are the master. After the SCM training, you can understand the scrum but you are not the master of the scrum.

Isn’t this go in line with the agile manifesto? Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools – the very first agile principle.

Although there are no books which describes scrum in detail but there are many books that tells you how to do scrum. This is due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to master Scrum and therefore many gurus have come out with many ways of practicing scrum.


For me the best way to master scrum is to understand these three characteristics so that you know what scrum is to offer.  It is very simple, lightweight and easy to understand and therefore it is difficult to master.


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