Scrum pitfalls

How to identify, avoid and solve.

Inga
Inga
Nov 20, 2018 · 9 min read

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The beginning of journey | Trollstigen, Norway | Photo by me

Agile/Scrum/enter trendy word here does not work

I can bet you have seen this click-bait headline hundreds of times, and that is good — everyone can have their own opinion, based on their own experience. Though what you should expect is people who don’t like change and want to work the same way they always did, will start sharing these articles with you and spreading negative emotions in the team, even though they had no real experience of Scrum / of working with that methodology. “My friend said”, “In my past company”, “I read that” — these are the arguments they will try to use to defend their point of view. In reality, it is a view formed by others and they actually rarely read the whole article they just shared because thoughts like “Agile does not work if you use it wrong” or “Scrum does not work if you do not have an agile thinking” which usually follow the clickbait headlines are not important for them. The best thing you can do here is to try to understand where that negative thinking came from — is that their personal view, have they had a bad experience or if it someone else’s idea planted in their head. Find out the root causes and why previous experience might have gone wrong and explain how it should have worked in the first place, try to teach them what actions will be taken and how they can take part. This leads to my second point.

Only parts of … works for us

One of the biggest mistakes people can do when they try to start practicing methodology on their own is not only still working in non-agile mindset but also cherry-picking established basics, that are there for a reason. People with little practice start using only planning (because they are used to some sort of planning in the waterfall/go with the flow approach) and maybe will do some grooming once in a while. That is where all the horror stories and articles originate from. There is a reason behind saying that Scrum is simple to understand, but difficult to master. My advice here is to really push through and start using each and every Scrum event there is, you can only break rules once you know them by heart.

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Ups and downs | The Atlantic Road, Norway | Photo by me

Evangelists

At another end of the spectrum, there are people who swear only by a pure agile/Scrum that has to be used 100% for a team to deserve to be called a Scrum team. Myself, I tend to be on this side too — but mainly because 99% of time people want to start by messing with the basics in the first place. I believe Scrum is focused on continuous improvement not only on services, products but also on its own ways of working, even though that it is stated that :

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Long road | Norway | Photo by me

Misinterpretation

Guilty as charged. Just like miscommunication, misinterpretation is one of the root causes of all the things that can go wrong. It can happen to anyone — newbie or professional. Scrum guide is barely 16 pages and people interpret it in different ways. It covers basic principles and there is a lot of space for discussion. Some of the examples include cases when people are against modifying sprint items and once they commit to the plan, nothing can change. While the Scrum guide says that:

Scrum for everyone

I personally believe it is not the case. Scrum should be used where it is needed and brings value, not because everyone is doing it right now. Scrum is not just a fancy word that you can take and tell everyone that you are now agile (though this is exactly what the majority is doing). You have to really believe and think in an agile way, you have to be excited to make changes, you must be happy to do mistakes and learn from them. If you are a type of person who does a feature and the second someone says to change it you get frustrated, it is not for you. You must be able to give and receive feedback and be open-minded about it, you must be willing to change and we all know that is a hard thing to do. I also believe that while tools and methods can make good teams great, they can not help the poor teams, so make sure you have a solid team in the first place.

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Bumpy road | The Old Kings Road, Norway | Photo by me
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At the end of the road | Loen, Norway | Photo by me

Satalia Lithuania

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