HBO’s Silicon Valley and Scrum

By Mark C. Layton

Agile practices, and specifically scrum, are being used across a variety of industries and fields. Scrum continues to gain exposure, this time on the HBO TV series Silicon Valley, which centers around six tech-geeks who live together, trying to make it big in California’s Silicon Valley.

In the “Scrum” episode, a project team uses a task board to visually illustrate the process of their product’s development.

For anyone involved in a transition to agile practices, several aspects of this episode hit close to home:

  • Resistance: You often see resistance to change, at first. For this startup, implementing something new made it feel like it “just became a job.” For others, it can be a threat to tradition and the way things have always been done.

  • Transparency: Although the team members in the episode seemed to think that the new system was a waste of time at first, it didn’t take long before some natural competition occurred from the transparency. (Hawthorne’s Law says that visibility and performance are directly proportional.)

  • Accountability: In the episode, the beginnings of team accountability are shown, especially when Jared corrects one of the developers by saying, “I’m pretty happy with ourself.”

Many professionals may cringe at how aspects of scrum are portrayed in the episode, but one thing is for sure: Scrum is becoming mainstream — it’s even caught Hollywood’s attention.