The top three red flags to look out for in your scrum team - Unlock Your Team's Genius

The top three red flags to look out for in your scrum team

By Georg Fasching | agile practice

Mar 21
Power of Three - Scrum Anti-patterns

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.
  2. 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!


About the Author

An agilist since 2010 and in product management since the 90s, Georg Fasching helps digital creative agencies delight their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.