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75% of those using Scrum will not succeed

Ken Schwaber, a co-creator of Scrum, predicted back in the days that only 25% of companies would be able to get the promised benefits of the method. After more than 10 years of organizational consulting, I estimate this number to be much lower.

Why? Because Scrum is a revolutionary method that is based on several structural changes that need to be put in place.

One of them is the introduction of the Product Owner’s role. This role has been invented around 30 years ago to highlight a radical structural change that needs to happen.

It is to merge power with information that are usually separated on a classical org chart. This is a decision-making capability at Gemba. A powerful move!

It is very rare actually that such a role already exists in a given organization before the adoption of Scrum. Yes, there are people with power and others with information, plus many different committees and work groups trying to make all sorts of decisions.

See how those classical dynamics are different from the single “product CEO” who makes informed decisions just-in-time by being involved in the act of product development with quick learning cycles being assisted by a group of committed, knowledgeable people.

That’s why it is so rare.

I am re-watching interviews with Brian Chesky, the AirBnB CEO. He is just fantastic. And, although, he does NOT call himself a product owner (who in the Silicon Valley does?), he’s very much describing the same dynamics that I would expect from the true PO in Scrum.


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