I show up every morning for a Rugby Match, but Football is on…

Agile is a sore subject for me.  SCRUM is a team concept, but why do I always attend morning huddles where the quarterback is barking orders from upper management? ?


Imagine what would happen you altered the rules around SCRUM and injecting a SCRUM Master that directs your every move?









I don’t think it would be very pretty or productive.  Some possible outcomes:

The game would start:

  1. But never progress because of a side conversation between the master and the ref.
  2. No one else would understand what is going on so no one would ever advance the ball
  3. Huddle would collapse because only 2 people really understand what is going on
  4. The game will constantly stop because the scrum master wants to change the play

The game would never start:

  1. Because the scrum master is more concerned about whether Joe is in the right position.
  2. The scrum master never showed up.


Horrible parallels aside, daily SCRUMs are designed to be more than a project management meeting.  The generic painful format is

1.  What did you do yesterday?

2.  What are you doing today?

3.  Besides this meeting, what else is standing in your way? 


Remember anyone with money can get SCRUM Master certified, the process reminds me of school these days, everyone passes, as long as you finish the test! A result of this is a lot of bad scum implementations.


What shouldn’t happen in the SCRUM? 

1.  Solving the issues that individuals have.

2.  People are talking to show how important they are a.k.a.  Conversations that the fiefs don’t understand.  I spoke in metaphors so let me elaborate, I like to think of this one as .  A random tangent has arisen and you find yourself observing 2 or 3 people conversing in a foreign language.   You hear the words coming out of their mouth but no one really understands what is going on.

3.  Last longer than 15 minutes.

4.  People shouldn’t sit down.


SCRUM has become painful for me because I keep seeing the same things happen.  First as schedules tighten, SCRUM slowly devolves into a daily project planning meeting.  The format is basically a daily update on tasks, the SCRUM master uses the meeting as a forum to make sure the project plan is up to date. 


Another common issue is referred to as the “Gorilla in the Room,” where one person dominates conversation and people look to them for opinions.  I have seen two scenarios of this, first was when the Gorilla was the SCRUM Master, as a result the meeting only happens with the Scrum master can attend.  When that person is out of office, or at another meeting the daily SCRUM turns into a high school class.  Teacher doesn’t show up, and 5 minutes later the students are roaming the hallways.  The team doesn’t buy into the meetings and their values.   The second “Gorilla in the Room” scenario is when people are afraid to speak because of a dominant team member that is never kept in check, as a result ideas/issues don’t flourish because of fear to speak, the resulting consequence is the absence of a team, and belief in the decisions that are made.


The last, and most prominent issue, I encounter in large scrum meetings is going into asinine conversations about issues.  The vast majority of the team isn’t involved, doesn’t care, or understand what the elite upper class is talking about so they tune out.    Keep the meeting focused on who is in attendance, and turn side conversations into follow up meetings, invite anyone who can contribute positively, and those that can’t but are still interested invite them as silent spectators. 


When SCRUM goes bad it turns into a daily impediment.  People see the meeting as invaluable and as an interruption in their day.   The SCRUM meeting should be the opposite, team members should be able to inform others what they are doing, voice impediments and know that shortly after the meeting their issues will be addressed. As a result the collaboration, keeps the team informed and interested, and as a result future issues have a higher possibility of being found.


It’s a lot easier to ignore an email, than it is to ignore a publicly voiced concern in front of a team.  These are the reasons I support daily SCRUM; it keeps people informed on who is doing what, and also gives people a forum to voice need for help.

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