The advantages of Scrum far outweigh the disadvantages. Quick and iterative delivery of products, transparency among team members, and better communication are attractive aspects of implementing Scrum. It is not impossible, however, for teams to fail with Scrum. The following are 3 most common ways teams fail with Scrum.
Resistance to change can take a number of forms within an organization. The most common tactics include feet-dragging, project sabotage, and even outright defiance. To be fair, introducing a new process, such as Scrum, to an established development team could easily be perceived as a risk. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know,” as the saying goes, a change in routine is an anxiety-inducing event for many. Forcing team members out of their comfort zones has the potential to create anxiety, and understandably so. To overcome internal resistance to the adoption of Scrum, Scrum Masters would be wise to create certainty around process, milestones, and expectations – and do so early on.
Are You Blaming the Process?
It is tempting to implement a methodology, such as Scrum, and expect it to solve all of your problems. Unfortunately, Scrum is not a magic wand. It does, however, have a tendency to highlight failures quickly. The very purpose of Agile Scrum is to ‘fail fast’, learn, and make better mistakes next time. Once in a while, fast failures are misinterpreted as unworthy exercises. In reality, without the Agile Scrum methodology in place, it could have taken the same team months or even years to realize their project was unrealistic. Paradoxically enough, the teams that blame Scrum for failure are the same teams that stand to learn the most from the process.
Prioritizing the Wrong Features
During a product backlog grooming session, the team and product owner discuss items on the backlog and make decisions about which items to prioritize in the next sprint. This is rarely a one-dimensional conversation. Bug fixes are an obvious priority, but the prioritization of new features must be carefully considered based on a number of factors, such as business value, user requests, market trends, competitive differentiation, experimentation, and level of effort required. Scrum has the potential to unleash agility within your business, but it also exposes weak spots. Fortunately, with a commitment to the process and a “fail fast” mentality, an agile transformation is at the tip of your fingers.
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