Thursday, October 21, 2010

Seven Deadly Sins of Scrum

1. Wrath
Something that anyone on a Scrum team might succumb to with the frustrations of learning to work a new way. But this might be something the Scrum Master could be especially tempted by. As guardian of Scrum principles it can be frustrating sometimes to see people doing it "wrong." But it's important to remember that people will often learn best by doing, by earning the knowledge for themselves. Scrum is a huge cultural change and requires patience as well as guidance. Besides, the basics of Scrum are very simple and few things are truly wrong so long as you manage to keep to them. Even then, sometimes letting people step outside the framework for a bit so they can compare may help.

2. Greed
When the stakeholders or the PO start to see productive, reliable outputs from the team and take note of velocity it may be tempting for them to ask the team to do more than their historical accomplishments indicates is feasible. "Can't you just squeeze in a few extra points?" This must be guarded against, because allowing such a thing runs the risk of people cutting corners, or even gaming things  so it *appears* more points are being done per sprint by falsely inflating estimates. Trust the team to work hard at a professional standard and use velocity for what it was intended: predictably planning what will be done by release time. 

3. Sloth
To a large extent the whole-team emphasis on committing to a body of work and getting it done by end of sprint coupled with daily stand-ups leaves fewer places to hide for  slackers than a waterfall team. Nonetheless, calling out people not pulling their weight can be uncomfortable. Traditionally a persons line manager would be responsible for this, but in a self managing team there is the possibility of everyone holding each other accountable for producing. Sloth harms the whole team and cannot be ignored. Sometimes people need to be "voted off the island."

4. Pride
We should always take pride in a job well done, but this should be a shared thing. A scrum team thrives on respect for and collaboration with each other. Ego-centric prima donnas have no place. It’s a team thing. Similarly, whilst great talent is always appreciated, singling out "rock stars" and putting them on a pedestal is counterproductive.

5. Lust
Yeah, um. Usual dating people at the office advice stands methinks.

6. Envy
Yeah that other Scrum team may have their own team room/bigger whiteboard/better computers/more interesting product... Whatever. Find the interesting angle in what you’ve got, work to improve what needs improving and stop coveting thy neighbor’s 27” dual monitor set up.

7. Gluttony
Sprint planning can take a while. With inexperienced teams I've seen it start with a late breakfast and run past lunch. Too many bagels with lashings of cream cheese, Danish pastries and  pizza for lunch will catch up with you. Perhaps it's a good thing you will be sprinting afterwards!

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