The Traps of Textbook Scrum

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Categories: Agile


By Christian Bisson, PMP, PSM

 

The Agile methodology is quickly becoming the standard for IT projects. More specifically, most organizations are using the Scrum framework to bring their software development to the next level. 

But it’s implementation often remains a challenge and that’s because Scrum is not one-size-fits-all, and if you follow the manifesto too rigidly you can fall into a few traps.

Here’s a look at two:

1. Lack of Team Experience

If you’re coaching a team new on Scrum, take baby steps. Imagine if you’re teaching someone to play basketball for the first time. You will most likely teach them how to dribble before you teach them how to dunk a ball.

It’s the same with Scrum. If you throw everything in the Agile Manifesto or Scrum Guide at your team at once, chances are the results will be poor, the team will be confused and ultimately they will not enjoy the methodology.

For example, when assigning complexity, start with T-shirt sizes (small, medium, large) instead of the Fibonacci scale. When the team grasps this concept well, adapt accordingly.

2. Potential Waste of Effort

An active sprint is considered sacred for a team. Its scope must not be modified, and any new requests/requirements should be factored into future sprints.

Be that as it may, sometimes there are extreme circumstances where the sprint must be stopped or modified due to new requirements.

For instance, say an amazing opportunity presents itself three days into the sprint, making the current scope of the sprint obsolete. Fixating on the fact that a sprint cannot change and having the team work for the remainder of the sprint on something confirmed to be useless would be a waste.

If this sudden change creates downtime for the team while the new requirements are written and refined, the team could focus on testing new technologies, or working on a proof of concept that could help with the new requirements.

Or sometimes a project faces issues and due to the importance of the client, those issues must be prioritized. People may be pulled out from one team to help another. That will mean that an active sprint’s committed scope may have to be reduced, which is when you have to put aside the textbook for the sake of the organization, and to help out colleagues in need.

Have you ever had to steer away from initial expectations for a project or team’s benefit? Share your story!

Posted by Christian Bisson on: December 23, 2018 02:47 PM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Good one. Thanks for sharing

Adaptability is key, though, important to remain within the guardrails set by the framework. But absolutely, don't restrict progress by being overly process driven.

You have to use an adaptive approach even for implementation. Test and review every new step.

Thank you for sharing. Please let me say something that is mostly missing: Scrum is a framework that must be fill with tools and techniques that best fit for current situation. That is the power of Scrum. First of all people need to understand that Scrum is stated inside the Scrum Guide. After that, then people must understand that there is no line into the Scrum Guide, there is no statement about to use user stories, story points, kanban boards, etc. So, when you talk about to teach fibonacci series that is not Scrum. That is a technique that could be use to implement a component in Scrum if and only if the environment is ready to use it. If not then other thing can be use with Scrum.

Thanks for sharing the article.Yes i agree with Luis points

I feel the pain Christian. Thanks for the insight.

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