Four Reasons why your Scrum is Painful

In lieu of a neatly wrapped conclusion: your team may have more than four!

Photo by Maria Lupan on Unsplash

Your product isn’t ready for scrum

This isn’t meant as another guide on converting an old, stodgy, waterfall process that takes six months to plan a four month project. There is another end of that spectrum that scrum tries to strike a balance with. At the other end of the spectrum are teams that have essentially no preplanned work at all, no agreed upon process, and use people as glue and grease to keep their machines running.

  1. How much money, in the form of time, do we spend trying to figure out what the system is doing?
  2. Do we have processes that contain “Contact David in engineering…”?

Your team has varied expectations of scrum

Often times, the most valuable parts of team building happen when people are sharing what they assume everyone else already knows or understands. The reason those moments are valuable is that no one else already knows or understands what is being shared.

You aren’t making second order investments

I’m a complainer. I’m good at it. Like every good complainer does, there’s a time for ranting against “We do it this way because that’s how we’ve always done things”. If the idea of your team meeting in a grooming session to discuss the complexity of each task your team needs to complete seems inane, it might be because the tasks you’re doing are ripe for optimization.

  1. You have a documented procedure to run certain scripts every time a particular complaint is made.
  2. You have high degrees of algorithmic or logical duplication in different aspects or features in your system.

You’re trying to use scrum to measure performance

In object-oriented programming, there’s a set of principles named SOLID², and the “S” stands for “Single Responsibility Principle”. This roughly translates to the idea that modules in a system should have only one reason to change, or that a single aspect of a system should have only a single stakeholder that it serves.

  1. If you start measuring each person’s total completed story points (or whatever estimation metrics you’re using), people will stop collaborating to complete tasks. People will also internalize knowledge on aspects of the system, carving out miniature fiefdoms, so that they’re guaranteed the opportunity to work on tasks with high estimates.
  2. People will generally become more risk averse, and your grooming meetings will grind to a halt. Estimates will no longer represent educated guesses, but instead will represent quantified treasure points to accumulate and count when it comes time for annual reviews and bonuses.

Tech guy with a business degree, I’ve worked in software engineering, QA automation, and product management. I live and work in NYC.

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