Announcing our upcoming book with Scrum.org and Addison-Wesley

Update: our book is now available. Order your book directly from us for some nice extras.

It was early 2008 when an Agile Coach sat alone in an office in Western Europe. The dim light of his desk lamp did its best to drive the evening’s gloom away. The man was lost in thought, puzzled by the day’s events. Yet another team showed signs of something he couldn’t quite grasp but had seen before. This concerning dynamic seemed to drain all life from his Scrum Team’s members. Again. Hoping against hope he worked on ideas to counteract what was happening, though his gut told him it was probably too late already. Had anyone else out there seen this before? Did anyone know what to do about it? …


Image for post
Image for post

I recently became a Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach. The process was simultaneously one of the most challenging and frustrating and helpful and rewarding things I’ve ever done.

To me, saying that I’m proud to have earned this certification is still kind of funny. There is one thing I constantly hear from Agile Coaches around me and it’s this: certificates suck. They’re not agile. They should not be used. They’re a waste of money. While I agree that this is the case for a lot of certificates I reject this blanket statement. Let me explain.

Why did I do it?

I remember when I got my CSP. Back then you still had to take an elaborate test to pass it. To prepare for it you were given an extensive list of books to read. Before taking the exam I had never been quite sure if I was actually doing a good job as a Scrum Master. And so I was looking for some way to grow and test myself. Preparation for the CSP was awesome. I spent six months immersed in all kinds of books, summarizing and learning as much as I could. I passed the exam and that was nice. But most of all I had a hurdle to clear, a goal to grow towards. The difference between my work before and after the exam was noticeable. I suddenly felt much more competent, and while working with teams I had fresh ideas and new concepts to explain. The people around me gave me great feedback and felt like my coaching had a much bigger impact. …


Image for post
Image for post

Through our studies, we have found that a lack of true product ownership is one of the main causes of Zombie Scrum. This is puzzling as the Product Owner role as such is clearly described in the Scrum framework. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a company that comes even close to living the role the way it was originally intended. Not because these companies successfully set up the Product Owner role as required by the Scrum Guide and then found out that strong product ownership doesn’t help them solve their problems. …


Image for post
Image for post

The sad truth about Zombie Scrum is that you will simultaneously be very alone and very dependent on other people. You simply won’t be able to make any lasting impact on your own. In order to make progress your best bet is to be smart about whom you include and in what way you can do it.

Social Network Webbing is a Liberating Structure that can be of tremendous help in this regard. At first glance it can look deceptively simple but in our experience it is one of the most powerful tools to battle Zombie Scrum.

In the following blog post we will outline how it can be used in a Zombie Scrum environment to include other people and widen your sphere of influence. …


Image for post
Image for post

Working in a Zombie Scrum environment can be an incredible challenge. In addition to all the structural work that you face the most exhausting aspect is usually the negative, numbing mindset. Zombie Scrum teams have given up hope and are often caught in a spiral of negativity. There are many ways to work with this mindset. One we have found useful is the cognitive-behavioral approach.

In “The Feeling Good Handbook” David D. Burns lists ten forms of cognitive distortions which can lead to increasing pathology. If you are a coach, you might be familiar with them on the level of the individual. …


Image for post
Image for post

One of the most striking symptoms of Zombie Scrum is the general lack of motivation. There’s no motivation to succeed and — even worse — there’s not even enough motivation for a full-scale riot! Getting stuck in mediocrity is often more dangerous than honest failure.

But how does Zombie Scrum do it? What’s the secret to killing motivation efficiently, making sure your employees don’t make any use of their brain at all?

One way of looking at this is through the lens of the factors outlined in Daniel Pink’s book on motivation “Drive”. He says motivation comes down to three main factors: autonomy, mastery and purpose. …

About

Johannes Schartau

Johannes is co-founder of the Zombie Scrum Resistance and co-author of the upcoming Zombie Scrum Survival Guide. He works for Holisticon in Hamburg, Germany.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store