How to Succeed With Zombie-Scrum?

Barry Overeem
Aug 10, 2017 · 6 min read

A couple of years ago Christiaan Verwijs and Johannes Schartau coined the term ‘Zombie-Scrum’. It became popular right from the start. Especially when we created the website Our mailbox exploded with information requests and the related Zombie-Scrum workshop became a monthly phenomenon.

Let me give a brief explanation of Zombie-Scrum for the ones not yet familiar with this theme. At first sight, Zombie Scrum seems to be normal Scrum. But it lacks a beating heart. The Scrum teams do all the Scrum events but a potentially releasable increment is rarely the result of a Sprint. Zombie Scrum teams have a very unambitious definition of what ‘done’ means, and no drive to extend it. They see themselves as a cog in the wheel, unable and unwilling to change anything and have a real impact: I’m only here to code! Zombie Scrum teams show no response to a failed or successful Sprint and also don’t have any intention to improve their situation. Actually nobody cares about this team. The stakeholders have forgotten the existence of this team a long time ago.

Of course, this sounds very appealing. The popularity of Zombie-Scrum is, therefore, no surprise at all. This blog post will focus on how to get started and succeed with Zombie-Scrum. What do you really need to have in place? What are the tips & tricks to give your Zombie-Scrum implementation a kick-start? How to make it sustainable? This article will offer you some nice recommendations.

How to Start and Succeed With Zombie-Scrum?

Have you got all of this in place? Great! You are ready to start with Zombie-Scrum and make it a sustainable implementation.

Let’s start the everlasting first Sprint, better known as the Sprint 0!


In this blog post, I’ve described how to get started with Zombie-Scrum. More important: I gave some tips and tricks on how to make it sustainable. For sure there are many other ways to start and succeed with Zombie-Scrum. Activate your cynical/sarcastic/skeptic mindset and I’m convinced you’ll come up with even more tips & tricks!

You might wonder why I’ve chosen this format. Well, sometimes it’s useful to think “negative” instead of “positive”. Ask questions like “how can we make this situation even worse?”. A different perspective might lead to insights you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.

If you’ve got any other ideas to “succeed” with Zombie-Scrum, feel free to share them. If you’re interested in the 4-hour Zombie-Scrum workshop we provide: let me know!

Diagnose Your Scrum Team

Are you curious to learn if your organization and team are infected by Zombie Scrum? Why don’t you give the Zombie Scrum Symptoms Checker a try? It’s completely free and anonymous and offers your team a profile that helps you identify the areas for improvement.

Sign up here to stay informed and provide feedback on our writing.

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

Barry Overeem

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Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

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