March 21, 2018

Keep an eye out for these Scrum anti-patterns that threaten the effectiveness of your team’s development


“Celebrate and embrace the retrospective as an improvement opportunity for the entire team” Click To Tweet


Tip 1: Take a close look at your retrospectives

Retrospective meetings–also known as team improvement meetings–help the team to uncover what went well and what could be improved from the last sprint or iteration. However, retros can become ineffective for a number of reasons:

    1. Problem: Delivery manager, team coach or scrum master fails to inject energy into the retro and simply does it to comply with the scrum framework.





      1. Answer: Celebrate it as an opportunity for feedback and continuous improvement, rather than a dull task.


  1. Problem: Not enough time to cover off everyone’s points and assign a resulting action to each individual.



    1. Answer: Give yourself and your team 45-60 minutes per week per iteration and don’t skip it just because the sprint is over. Ensure everyone has a chance to speak and that all voices are heard.

Tip 2: Get your backlogs in order

I’ve seen too many poorly-organised backlogs in my time and they always result in a dysfunctional team. Badly organised backlogs come in a number of forms:

    • business value or user value isn’t clear to the team working on the item


    • backlog work item is expressed as a skill rather than a feature of the product


    • work is badly prioritised so low-level items are executed ahead of the important stuff


  • work items are not ready for the sprint but thrown in anyway.

All of these create hazardous backlogs that waste time and energy. Pay attention to the backlog and ensure it’s well-organised before the start of every iteration. There have to be enough ‘ready’ product backlog items come out of Product Backlog Refinement for the next Sprint before of Sprint Planning.

Tip 3: Make your metrics count

Most companies rely on metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in some shape or form. However when those measurements are wrong they become useless. Make sure you have meaningful metrics so your team creates maximum impact in their delivery. You’ll want to know the following:

    • how are your team doing? (team health & happiness)


    • are they working at a pace that’s sustainable?


    • is there there regular improvement to their way of working?


  • are they increasing in their rate of delivery?

By having metrics in place to measure this you can make a noticeable difference to your team’s effectiveness and their development through each iteration.


I hope the video and tips above help you to identify and eliminate the dangerous Scrum anti-patterns that can emerge throughout a team’s journey together. It’s worth noting that there’s no such thing as perfect. But if you can keep an eye out for these warning signs you’ll stand a better chance of maintaining a highly-effective scrum team.

If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, leave a comment below or send me a message through my website. Thanks for reading. See you next time!

Here’s the full transcript:

Here’s the full transcript:

-Hi, George here, helping unlock your team’s genius.
Welcome back to another episode in the power of three series, where I’m spending just three minutes to share my top three tips and encouragements for a particular subject.
In this video, I would like to share the top three anti-patterns that I see in SCRUM practice across several teams, across several organizations.
And, with that, let us put three minutes on the clock.
So, the first anti-pattern that I would like to bring your attention to is ineffective retrospectives or ineffective team improvement meetings.
So, I have already shared another video, My top three tips and encouragements for your retrospectives.
And further to that, I would like to also share some considerations around timing.
I have seen that in some teams, the team coach, SCRUM master, delivery manager, whatever it is called in a particular organization, doesn’t really put a lot of
energy into the retrospective and kind of does it because some document or some framework says that you have to, rather than really embracing it and celebrating it as an
improvement opportunity for the entire team.
So, it’s a great thing to have a retrospective.
So, make it worth the while of everyone in attendance.
And, also, ensure that you have enough time set aside for the retrospective.
So, rough average 45 to 60 minutes for every week in your planning iteration.
So, for a two week planning iteration, have about 90 minutes to two hours worth of time.
So, that’s on the retrospective.
The second big anti-pattern that I’d like to share with you is on the poor backlogs.
I’m going to release another video that looks at my top three tips for getting your backlog into a great state.
But, I’ve seen quite a few poor backlogs and they always resulted in dysfunction of the team and so it could be that the business or user value wasn’t very clear in them.
It could be that the product backlog item was expressed as a skill for a particular discipline or cross-functional skill, excuse me, and rather than a user-orientated feature, or it could be not well-ordered, it could be lagging behind and not ready for the next planning meeting, and so on and so forth.
So, it could be any number of those things.
So, do pay attention to the product backlog.
Assure it is well done, that it is well refined.
When it comes to refinement, I have done another video in this series that I’ll also link to where I share my top three encouragements on refinement.
The third and last anti-pattern I would like to share with you today is around one key or even having no metrics at all.
So, firstly, it is quite important to have very meaningful and poignant KPIs and metrics for your product or your service that you’re working on in order to ensure the impact that you’re having as a team on the product and that you’re creating for the user.
But also on the delivery side of things, how well is the team improving the way that they’re working together over time, is there an increase over time in the rate of delivery, either measured through a metric of your choice, could be velocity or leads time and whatever it is, ensure that you have those metrics in place so that you can actually notice the measurable difference and improvement that you make.
And with that, our time is up.
Thank you very much for your time watching this video.
Please like, share, and subscribe, and share any thoughts on this video or any ideas for future videos in the comments.
Thank you very much and til next time, all the best, bye bye.

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About the author 

Georg Fasching

A leadership team development specialist, International Coach Federation - Professional Certified Coach, with global product management experience since 2000, employing Agile & Lean since 2010, Georg Fasching guides leadership teams to delighting their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.

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