Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bad hair day

I think it was the Dalai Lama who said - if you lose, don't lose the lesson,

My last post (real life, not blogging) was an effort to manage a project the scrum way, and I admit (to myself, at least) I failed miserably...

So, in tribute to the Dalai, what lessons did I learn about Scrum implementation?

Or: subtitled, warning signs in scrum implementation.
Before starting, two comments:
  1. This post's sole purpose (except entertain ya) is to serve as a postmortem checklist for the health of your process.
  2. A small disclaimer, as all of my posts, this is just about me, highly subjective, take it all with at least one grain of salt,
Or in other words:

And now for the list, bottm-up:

Development team side:

  1. A team member refers to the sprint as your sprint (example phrase: "this is the last time I stay late for your sprint").
  2. A team member states he knows what scrum is, and that you don't (example phrase: "this is not how scrum is done, in my previous company we did scrum and there was a full spec for the whole version before we started the first sprint").
  3. A developer does stuff that is not required for the sprint, but that he believes is required in the 'final' version, and than complains he didn't get enough time to deliver his task. (example phrase: "no need for a code review, I know my code sucks, but I had to implement two servers that communicate between them, since otherwise the solution is not scalable and the final product will not support high load, and that's why the two day task is not finished though I am working on it 6 days already", sometimes followed by "I need just one more day")
  4. Team bonding: when the only glue the team has is the the consensus about failure/ how the product sucks/ how the QA or Product manager or whoever doesn't know his job.

Product management:

  1. No vision: the question where do you want the product to be in 1 year? two? five? meets a blank stare.
  2. Constant panic: new urgent customer needs bypass the sprint, one product is stopped mid way to start a second one, which is stopped midway to start a third one.
  3. 'User story', sounds like a strange concept, and the delivered spec has redundancy, contradictions, and outdated sections.
  4. Everything is top priority.
  5. PM located on a different floor than dev (higher).
  6. There are several PMs, each with his own priorities.


  1. No space is dedicated for the team (no wall can be dedicated for the daily standup, no whiteboards in any meeting room since all walls are made entirely of glass (on which you are not allowed to write on with a marker), except for one with a plasma TV.
  2. Your manager (the one that hired you to propagate scrum to the system) calls all the project managers one day to a meeting where he announces that today is his last day on the job, and wishes you all luck..
  3. Management doesn't know team members by name, and presents yearly plans without consulting the team.

(last but not least...) You:

  1. The days you come to work optimistic/ happy/ motivated get rarer and rarer.
  2. You start a blog-post with everybody else's symptoms and put yours in last place.
  3. You stop doing Scrum, (and no one asks you why)
  4. You stop publishing the Blog you started on scrum, since you have no positive experience to share.
  5. You start looking for another workplace.
Here's lookin' at ya, Lama!

- Till nextime!


  1. lol

    Love the post (all of them in fact, so far). they're both funny and true..

    hate to ruin the fun but what would you do to change these symptoms?

    keep 'em coming..

  2. In fact, col is more in order.

    If you are religious, you can ask "god, give me the power to change what I can, the capacity to accept what can't be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish between the two.

    I am not, I think I could deal with a number of those at a time, but when the thing hits critical mass, just beware not to get sucked to the black hole...

  3. OK, Avi, your question still bothered me, (thanks!)
    So I thought about it some more...
    (and again, I STRESS, all characters and events ARE FICTIONAL!!!)

    Most of the problems I mentioned may revolve around:
    - HUGE technical debt (think Titanic)
    - Refusal to look at the mirror and face reality by management, that propagated down and becomes pure fear (due to tension between reality and power-source)

    When you find yourself chained to a Titanic - what do you do?
    - if you are agile the most you can do is the-Houdini.

    When the news is so bad the system shuts its ears what do you?
    - as an agilist, you stop talking (Eliminate waste, is it?).