Friday, February 22, 2013

It’s important for Scrum Teams to re-evaluate their practices from time-to-time. Based on results from our online Self-Assessment, we know most of you are adhering to best practices and excelling.

Many teams do almost everything except for ‘that one thing.’ Leaving even one basic scrum principle out of the Team’s practice has a ripple effect on overall performance. That’s why this month we are getting back to basics!


Know Your Velocity! Despite being the most fundamental metric, about half of all teams don’t know their Velocity. Without it, showing improvements to management is difficult and approximating a release date is impossible. Estimate your stories, keep a record of how many points you complete each sprint, and get your Velocity.

Use Points, not Hours. Because measuring productivity in hours is so imbedded in our work culture, lots of organizations think it makes sense. It doesn’t. Humans are very bad at measuring things in time. If you are using hours, your Velocity is probably skewed.


The big snag seems to be the Retrospective. Retrospectives can be hard because they reveal uncomfortable truths. Team members don’t want to identify key impediments because they are worried about offending someone. As a result, the one thing that can improve your next Sprint is never identified. Be honest because continuous improvement is the point. Learn more about Retrospectives here.


Scrum Masters: remember you own the process. Your relationship with the team involves both support and rigor. Be supportive by removing impediments but be rigorous in your fundamentals. Hold Daily Stand-Up Meetings to 15 minutes, make sure the top priority is being worked on, and that things are moving to ‘done’.  Be both empathetic and disciplined and remember: put the responsibility back on the Team.

The importance of PRODUCT OWNERS can’t be overstated. They represent the needs of the customer and communicate the vision to the Team and management. Product Owners must keep management involved or they will have difficulty translating leadership’s vision into business value for the customer, and well-prioritized and defined tasks for the team.

Product Owners, remember the responsibility of the project is yours.  Make sure to talk regularly to team about the relative business value of the epics and stories. Engage your team in grooming the backlog and helping you clarify stories so that they include rigorous Definitions of Done. This will increase Velocity! (So will avoiding Product Owner common pitfalls!)


Scrum is based on the principal of Inspect and Adapt. If you are just getting started or are having a tough time showing improvement, get back to basics (Shu). Only then start tweaking Scrum so it works for your Team (Ha). Eventually some teams may reach Hyper-Productivity (Ri). Which state are you in?

Scrum Co-founder Dr. Jeff Sutherland will address these and other issues in his upcoming Webinar: Scrum Fundamentals: Back to basics. Sign-up here.

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