Stuck with Scrum


As part of a switch to Agile, I’m trying to get one of my teams to use Scrum.

We hired a full-time Scrum-master but it isn’t working. She’s telling me that the team won’t stick to the sprint schedule and can’t estimate well enough.

What can I do? I’m not an expert on Scrum but they are looking to me for answers.

Please help!

I wonder what motivated the choice of Scrum and were you aware of its constraints (link to blog post)? Is it the right solution for you? How would you know?

Scrum is high-discipline and takes a lot of committed energy to get going. Are you expecting the Scrum-master to provide that? It needs to come from the whole team with a shared understanding of why it matters.

The team’s primary job is to work and deliver incrementally.

Team velocity and how much they can achieve in a sprint is a learning exercise that will take time to settle down. There shouldn’t be a “schedule” so much as a sprint backlog that the team work through as best they can. Not delivering everything in the sprint is not the end of the world – it helps the team learn and better guess what they can do for the next sprint.

Estimation is a weak point in Scrum. It is required but isn’t easy to do well, particularly early on. Many teams find it hard.

Getting obsessed with estimation accuracy is the wrong focus. The right focus is short sprints with rapid delivery – that provides real data on how the team are performing. Don’t be afraid to use T-shirt sizes. What you are looking to emerge is a general correlation between estimate and actual after several sprints, nothing ever more than that. It isn’t that predictable.

Estimation is a weak point in Scrum. It is required but isn’t easy to do well

I once saw an “Agile Coach” perform advanced statistical analysis using story points with Scrum.

He produced some very pretty graphs but didn’t realise they were effectively pretty noise that told the Project Manager absolutely nothing useful. The team had not yet achieved any kind of maturity and so every sprint looked different. What a waste of time.

It sounds like your Scrum-master doesn’t fully “get it” and/or is having trouble relating to the team. Are you sure they are right person to help you?

Good luck sorting it out!

Posted in Scrum.

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