My Top Ten Worst Scrum Anti-Patterns

TL; DR: My Top Ten Worst Scrum Anti-Patterns

I recently was invited to a Scrum.org Webinar, and I picked a topic close to my heart: the worst Scrum anti-patterns. So, without further delay, here are my top ten of the meanest, baddest Scrum anti-patterns I have experienced.

My Top Ten Worst Scrum Anti-Patterns — Age-of-Product.com
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Scrum Questions: Seven Simple Issues and Complex Answers from LinkedIn Polls

TL; DR: Scrum Questions: Seven Simple Issues and Complex Answers

How hard can Scrum be; the manual has 13 pages? You may have heard something along this line from skeptics in the past, dismissing the complex nature of an intentionally incomplete framework. The point is that exciting discussions happen when you start digging a bit deeper. Supposedly simple Scrum questions often return a broad spectrum of answers, ideas, and opinions.

Therefore, for some months now, I have run polls on LinkedIn. The polls address topics like the implications of self-management, how the management or corporate hierarchy fits into the picture, and the relationship between Scrum and agile coaching.

Let me share some of the controversial findings and discussions with you. As always, there are no simple answers in complex environments.

Scrum Questions: Seven Simple Issues and Complex Answers from LinkedIn Polls — Age-of-Product.com
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Scrum: The Obsession with Commitment Matching Velocity

TL; DR: The Obsession with Commitment Matching Velocity

Despite decades-long efforts of the whole agile community—books, blogs, conferences, webinars, videos, meetups; you name it—we are still confronted in many supposedly agile organizations with output-metric driven reporting systems. At the heart of these reporting systems, stuck in the industrial age when the management believed it needed to protect the organization from slacking workers, there is typically a performance metric: velocity.

In the hands of an experienced team, velocity might be useful a team-internal metric. But, when combined with some managers’ wrong interpretation of commitment, it becomes a tool of oppression. So when did it all go so wrong?

Scrum: The Obsession with Commitment Matching Velocity — Age-of-Product.com
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Hiring: 76 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

TL; DR: 76 Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Imposters

If you are looking to fill a position for a Product Owner in your organization, you may find the following 76 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my fifteen years of practical experience with XP and Scrum, serving both as Product Owner and Scrum Master and interviewing dozens of Product Owner candidates on behalf of my clients.

So far, this Product Owner interview guide has been downloaded more than 9,000 times.

Hiring: 76 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions: PO Anti-Patterns — Age-of-Product.com
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Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers

TL; DR: Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers

Many people dislike estimating work items as estimates supposedly open the path to the misuse of velocity by the managers, reintroducing Taylorism, micro-management, and excessive reporting through the backdoor. To them, for example, the proponents of #noestimates, estimates conflict with basic ideas of agile product development such as self-management, becoming outcome-focused, or leaving the feature factory for good.

I like to suggest a different, less ideological approach: estimates are useful at the team level, just ditch the numbers. How so? Estimation of work items is a fast way for a Scrum team to figure out whether all team members are on the same page regarding the why, the what, and the how of the upcoming work. The numbers are a mere side-effect, probably still valid to inform the team, though. (Indeed, the numbers are not intended to be used beyond the team level.)

Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers — Scrum Master Survival Guide — Age-of-Product.com

By the way, similar to the fact that you cannot “not communicate,” I am convinced that people will always “estimate,” whether they talk about it or not.

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Adapt How You Lead for Agile Success — Johanna Rothman at the Agile Camp Berlin 2021

TL; DR: Adapt How You Lead for Agile Success w/ Johanna Rothman — ACB21

Too many people say, “With agile, we don’t need no stinkin’ managers.” However, because managers create and refine the culture, modern managers create and refine the agile culture. Without modern management, any agile initiative will die. It’s time to invite managers to change their behaviors and create a real agile culture. Learn from Johann Rothman how to adapt your leadership style for agile success as a manager in an agile organization in this 54-minute long video from the Agile Camp Berlin 2021.

Modern Management: Adapt How You Lead for Agile Success — Johann Rothman at the Agile Camp Berlin 2021
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