Rules of SCRAM

Here are the rules of SCRAM, which we found on a notebook lodged above the ceiling tiles of an office whose former occupant had been Dismissed Without Favor Under Abrupt and Very Mysterious Circumstances.

May these serve you well.


1. The team must meet for at least 15 minutes, blocking traffic in a hallway if possible. The meeting must be held once a day, at a different time every day to accommodate different team members’ schedules. If a single time is convenient for everyone then a different time must be chosen, preferrably one which causes at least one person to miss a bus or shuttle.

2. There are GOATS and there are COWS. GOATS get blame; they are otherwise uninvolved. COWS must stand around and talk (or “moo”) about inconsequential nonsense, or if technical details about the project need to be mentioned, the COWS will talk about deeply booorring esoterica.

3. The BARNYARD MANAGER must conduct each Scram wearing a funny hat, an untucked flannel shirt and hip waders. When the team is assembled, the BM’s job is to go around the room and ask what the team members have had for breakfast, whether they have enough coffee (and if not, provide it), and after an adequately long and polite exchange of nothings, inquire as to how things are going on the project, if it’s not too much trouble.

4. Status reports (from the COWS only) are one of:

“Moo.” Things are going great.

“Moo.” Honest, that bug fix is done and ready to be checked in.

“Moo.” Maybe there is still a little problem.

“Moo.” We have backups for the production database, right?

“Moo.” That GOAT over there is the real problem; it’s HIS code I’m fixing.

“Moo.” Who made me a cow on this project anyway? I was happy working on ________ until they dragged me in here to work with you ________.

[common reponse:] “Mooooooo,” and move on to the next COW.

5. GOATS just stand around during this phase and stare at each other, rolling their eyes frequently at howlers (such as using serialization to SOAP for storage, or databases as RPC mechanisms). It is often useful for GOATS — or anybody, really — to take notes for the monthly BACKSTABBING drill.

6. COWS also report what they will be working on, and whether they are blocked by anything and need medical attention. A long, cud-chewing description of every planned keystroke and mouse click for the next 24 hours is about the right level of detail.

7. I lied earlier, there are also ORANGUTANS. The ORANGUTANS drop in on the meeting, raise a ruckus, throw shit around, and leave. These can be managers, architects, high-ranking sales folks or executives who have discovered a new shiny methodology to chase.

“Why aren’t you guys using Aspect Oriented Programming for this? You should be using SOAP-on-Rails and template meatprogramming! [sic] You’d better have those cyclo-automatic complexity numbers submitted and down by half by next week or we’ll have to find a new team who can! Our field people need instrumention numbers and ROI valuation or this project is history!”


“Who was that guy?”

“Third floor, sales I think.”

“Not high enough for when we get him to jump.”

8. After the last COW has spoken, everyone goes off and does whatever they were planning to do anyway, and the BM polices the area with the shovel.

Author: landon

My mom thinks I'm in high tech.

3 thoughts on “Rules of SCRAM”

  1. I have convinced my boss to implement SCRAM. We had already been using it, it just hadn’t been given a name yet.

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