Why Scrum Works

By Normandale Continuing Education

Traditional project management methods work best when the objectives are clear and the processes and outcomes are consistent and controllable. Rarely, is that the case anymore. Jennifer Berg, VP of Product Services at Cambria, a Minnesota-based, family-owned producer of natural quartz surfaces, shares that in today's work environment "everything seems to be changing - all at once. When a project is launched, leaders and teams need to keep things moving, learn as they go, limit risk and deliver results." Enter Scrum.


You'll often hear people talking about Scrum and Agile interchangeably. At a basic level, Scrum is an Agile methodology. So, what is Agile? Doug Shimp, nationally recognized Agile and Scrum expert, consultant, author, and instructional partner to Normandale, explains that "Agile is the construct, the overarching philosophy, and Scrum is the methodology that brings Agile principles to life." 

Converting data into meaningful information often starts with building technical skills. Becoming proficient with applications like Excel, Access and Structured Query Language (SQL) is a great starting point. An excellent next step is Normandale's Data Analysis Certificate. Jeff Hudson, Continuing Education Director, shares that "this certificate is designed for those who want to boost their abilities to work with statistics, see trends and identify those key insights that are often hiding in the data."  

Scrum is also a bit of a hybrid and chameleon. As a methodology, it can evolve and take shape where it lives, hence its agile nature. Many Scrum practices and tools can trace their roots to best practices found in project management, lean and creativity methods. 

Berg adds that "the beauty of Scrum is that it is so adaptable. Whether your organization is small or large, young or mature, you can implement Scrum and see results." No doubt that is why over 600 employees from Accenture, General Mills, Optum, Target and others have attended Scrum training at Normandale in recent years. 

When Cambria hired Berg in 2015, the company was growing rapidly and its projections for expansion were daunting. She knew that her goal was to "create a stand-up project delivery methodology that would work in a fast scaling environment." Berg also knew that her approach would need to reinforce her company's core values. 

While Cambria's success is measured in many ways, it's first and foremost about creating a quality customer experience, which is why dozens of Cambria employees have already gone through training and are implementing Scrum - Cambria-style. 


At its core, Scrum is a team-based approach, with specific roles for the ScrumMaster and Scrum Product Owner. Teams learn to focus their individual and collective efforts on meeting project goals. 

How does it work? Scrum teams work in sprints, which are short, defined chunks of time and tasks. Sprints continue until the project is completed. Jan Beaver, certified Scrum expert and Normandale instructor shares that "when a company uses Scrum, it immediately creates a positive force. Teams are able to test ideas and generate insights in real time."

Scrum offers key benefits to project teams over more traditional approaches, enabling them to: 

Cut through complexities. Teams learn to use testing and to value data over opinions. They also learn to ignore conventions and breakdown both silos and hierarchies. 

Adapt in real time. Rather than following a prescribed project plan, new information is verified and incorporated into the project real time.    

Get the payoff. "Fail early, fail often, fail cheaply." This mantra enables Scrum teams to identify and test opportunities through rapid iterations as compared to more traditional approaches, which can lead to bankrolling high-buck projects.  


When individuals complete Normandale's Scrum programs, they earn a globally recognized certification - Certified ScrumMaster and/or Certified Scrum Product Owner - plus a two-year membership in the Scrum Alliance.

Whether you are a solo-preneur or work for a global enterprise, Normandale offers a variety of agile and scrum workshops, customized training and project consulting. For over 10 years, Normandale has been Minnesota's leader in Scrum training. Give us a call at 952-358-8343 to see how Scrum can work for you, your team and your organization.