Scrum Monster: Survival Guide for agile teams

Welcome noble agile warrior, if you are in this page right now I might suppose that you are already familiar with the agile...

Written by Freddy Ayala · 2 min read >

Welcome noble agile warrior, if you are in this page right now I might suppose that you are already familiar with the agile manifesto, you have started your journey by tasting a bit of no matter what flavor of agile such as scrumxp or kanban, and you have understood that most of all agile (or agility) is a mindset and agile is not magic.

However, before continuing further you should be warned that “It is dangerous to go alone” in this journey because you will definitely meet along the way the “Scrum Monster”, a two headed creature that uses acronyms all the time as their mother language, when this beast tries to communicate you can hear all sort of acronyms and words such as “MMF”, “LEAN”, “ART” and “MTV” or “MVP” you cannot be sure.

This highly “certified” entity will try to entice you and your team with his incomprehensible terminology and complex methodologies, he will say that he masters agile and scrum.

He will try to convince your team to have one week sprints, 4 hours of sprint planning, 4 hours of demo and unlimited retrospective time, leaving no time left for development, because communication is more important right?

He has a vague idea of what is a backlog and for him agile is to do Big Design Upfront but with post-its and “visual management”.

The scrum monster is an aberration, a deformation of the classic role of “scrum master”, a calamity that has started to appear more frequently in many organisations, he or she is the typical consultant that follows frameworks or methodologies blindly like a religion and tries to force their own flavor of agile to the team (more is better right? scrum is not enough we should add a bit of safe and lean) in an over complicated way, instead of adapting existing frameworks to the current context, most all the scrum monster is not enterprise aware. He arrives he copy/paste what he did before.

Your only defense against this kind of agile mindset-destroying behemoth is not to fight him at the same level, such as memorizing all his acronyms or trying to discuss in his language, you will be easily devoured by him, it is not safe to engage him in this way.

Keep it Simple/Stupid!

The best defense is to work together with your team and use your secret weapon: KISS (Keep it Simple/Stupid).

The scrum monster thrives in complexity, obscurity and commercial agile bullshit, in order to survive this cthulhu in lean startup mode, you MUST work together with your team and management, follow this checklist:

  • Communication is essentials, acronyms make communication difficult, don’t abuse them.
  • When a tool or methodology or framework seems to big or complex, challenge it, find out if it really generates added value for the team, if not, just discard it.
  • If you understand the principles of agile, you can use whatever methodology or framework you want, it’s up to you to choose your way of working, as long as you generate added value.
  • If you face the scrum monster, do it as a team, you are stronger in numbers, he will try to divide and conquer, don’t let him do it, transparency and collaboration is your best weapon.
  • Implement agile practices step by step, walk before running, for example don’t do Test Driven Development (TDD) just for the sake of doing it, understand all the advantages and disadvantages of agile practices and adapt them to your context.
  • As a manager, don’t open the doors for the scrum monster, listen to your team, learn about agile, be informed, challenge any notion that a magical method or process will increase the productivity of your team and solve all your problems, there is no shortcut.
  • Most of all, understand that agile is a mindset, no amount of consultants, certifications, ppts, bpmn diagrams, processes or methodologies are going to change this fact, don’t do agile, BE AGILE, teamwork and communication is the key.

By keeping things simple my friend, this xtreme scaled agile Baphomet can go back where it came from.

Disclaimer: All Opinions expressed in this article are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer or associates.

Agile is not Magic!

Freddy Ayala in Agile, DevOps
  ·   3 min read

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