How To Do Scrum Outside IT?

11 and 12 November, I did my very first scrum training in Indonesia. And with a very positive experience. We had 12 people in the training. The backgrounds were quite diverse. Of course, most people came from an IT company, but we also had some people working in operations and marketing/sales. I get the question ‘does scrum fit outside IT?’ a lot. My reply is always 100% yes. And I think it’s not necessarily about implementing scrum as the framework is designed. It’s more about creating an agile mindset. Some of those are:

  • Start thinking in terms of products (or projects), instead of ongoing never ending work
  • Work in sprints (this can be 1 week for non IT)
  • Create boards (this doesn’t need to be the standard scrum board with to do, in progress, done).
  • Do the ceremonies (planning, daily, review, retrospective)
  • Create product owner and scrum master role (and judge yourself what other roles you need)
  • Work as a team

During my trainings, I have a lot of group work. One of the exercises on the second day is to create a scrum implementation plan for the specific team you work in. The team that wanted to apply scrum in operations and sales worked very hard at creating this plan. In the end, they had decided to create 2 ‘projects’. They had created a backlog for both projects, that would be implemented sequentially. One person was appointed product owner, the other scrum master. And the fun thing is, I heard from their boss, that on Monday they immediately started executing.


I believe it’s about changing the way you work. It’s not a marathon, but sprints. You can plan long term, but you’re taking it per week, per day, per hour. One of my favorite frameworks for organizing is the scaling up method. Although it’s not a framework discussed within the Agile community (except for a rare occasion in Amsterdam where Jeff Sutherland was presenting alongside Verne Harnish), I believe it should be there. Parts of it are a bit rigid and plan-based, but it takes agile away from IT.

You’re not alone, but you’re working as a team. In the old paradigm, bosses give out orders to subordinates. Tasks are assigned and people have to report them done. They have individual kpi’s to see if they do well. In agile and scrum, we focus on the team, we measure the team and stuff gets done by a team.

And you can experiment with different types of scrum boards. There are quite some case studies out there about the use of scrum outside IT. An interesting often discussed case is the legal department of Lonely planet. Here’s what their board looks like:


Another interesting case is Eduscrum. This is a school in the Netherlands, using scrum to teach children. The teacher becomes a mentor and children self-organize their learning on specific topics. They build a learning backlog at the beginning of the day.


You can also watch this youtube video with a 5 minute introduction to the way they organize learning.

There’s even companies using agile and scrum in manufacturing cars and beyond:


Wikispeed is an automotive manufacturer that produces modular design cars. Wikispeed was a competitor in the Progressive Automotive X Prize competition in 2010. The car debuted at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan in January 2011. Wikispeed innovates by applying scrum development techniques borrowed from the software world. They use open sourcetools and lean management methods to improve their productivity.

So if you’re thinking ‘can I apply scrum outside IT’: YES. Scrum and agile are even based on principles from outside IT (e.g. lean manufacturingkaizen). If you’re wondering ‘how to implement scrum outside IT’, look at the above cases, shoot me an email ( or come to one of my trainings 

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