Seven sins of a Scrum Master

Seven sins of a Scrum Master

The Scrum Master will never be responsible for the success of the product. However, they have an important role in helping those who are, the product owner and the team. A good Scrum Master can significantly increase the odds of success. Similarly, a bad Scrum Master can derail everything, causing disastrous failure. In this article, I will look at seven bad characteristics or behaviours of Scrum Masters I have witnessed. Not understanding Scrum Mixing or not understanding the Scrum Master…

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13 tips for an effective retrospective

13 tips for an effective retrospective

According to the State of Scrum survey from 2015, almost one 1 out of 5 teams don’t bother having a sprint retrospective. This is a real shame as they miss out on one of the best and most important parts of Scrum: trying to make every sprint a little bit better than the one before. A cautionary tale The two main arguments against retrospectives I tend to hear are: “We don’t have time for retrospectives. We’ve got real work to…

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5 situations when Scrum may not be your best choice

5 situations when Scrum may not be your best choice

Not every story about Scrum is a success story. Scrum can fail. One of the reasons why many teams don’t get the value out of Scrum they were hoping is that they are trying to use it in a situation or environment where it is not appropriate. No set of practices will work in every single context and Scrum is no exception. Let’s look at some examples where Scrum will either be very hard to make work or provide little…

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Don’t lose track of the big picture

Don’t lose track of the big picture

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where–” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol 1865 One of the most important things Scrum sets out to do is to increase our chance of building the right thing. We deliver working software in short…

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What is potentially shippable about anyway?

What is potentially shippable about anyway?

One of the core concepts of Scrum is to produce working software each sprint. The Scrum Guide is very clear: Development Teams deliver an Increment of product functionality every Sprint. This Increment is useable, so a Product Owner may choose to immediately release it. This is what we often refer to as potentially shippable. It means that the features we’ve completed so far are not only code complete but have also been tested and are free from any critical bugs….

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A cross-functional team isn’t a bunch of generalists

A cross-functional team isn’t a bunch of generalists

For the first few years of my Scrum Master career, I had a fundamentally incorrect understanding of what the term “cross-functional team” means. I thought it meant that everyone on the team could do everything. There was no room for specialised testers, database administrators or business analysts on a Scrum team. And just because someone is a JavaScript guru, that didn’t mean that they could expect to be writing JavaScript code. Fair enough, I thought. Somehow, though, the team members were less…

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Why your eyes and ears are the most important tools you have as a Scrum Master

Why your eyes and ears are the most important tools you have as a Scrum Master

What are your most important tool as a Scrum Master? Here are some ideas: A task board. Helps the team coordinate their work and keep track of the progress. Some sticky notes and sharpies. Quick and easy tools to make everything visible! A burn-up or burn-down chart. Is the team and project on track? A team barometer. Is the team happy? A Scrum checklist. Are we following the rules of Scrum or are we taking shortcuts? All of these can…

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The two most important things about feedback loops in Scrum

The two most important things about feedback loops in Scrum

Building complex products is unpredictable. We are forced to make a lot of assumptions (guesses). This is the why we use an agile framework like Scrum, as it allows us to verify our assumptions as early as possible, before we go too far down the wrong track. At our service, we have feedback loops. These help us create a better product (are we building the right thing?) and increase our productivity, quality etc (are we building it right?). A feedback…

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5 reasons why forecasting is hard and 6 things to do about it

5 reasons why forecasting is hard and 6 things to do about it

I once interviewed a project manager whose CV claimed that she consistently delivered projects ahead of time and under budget. That is certainly no small achievement, so I asked her what her secret was. She answered, “I take the estimates from the developers and multiply by 5”. I used that story as a funny anecdote for a long time. In “real life”, who would ever manage to sell something if they charged that much? However, I have since been working…

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Can we break the rules of Scrum?

Can we break the rules of Scrum?

One of the most common complaints I hear and read about Scrum is about Scrum being very strict and inflexible. Is that true? Well, the Scrum Guide, which lists the rules of Scrum does say: Scrum’s roles, artifacts, events, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum. Scrum exists only in its entirety That is pretty clear, isn’t it? Follow the rules or you’re not doing Scrum! Scrum seems to…

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