In 2003 Mike Cohn started this project with a paper entitled: Toward a Catalog of Scrum Smells (pdf – in the spirit of Code Smells) and last year Rowan Bunning did a presentation Sharing More than Deodorant for Scrum Smells (pdf). Rowan encouraged me to create a wiki with all of these smells. So I’ve spent some time in the past few days fleshing out this Catalog. These are a series of simple patterns that describe a problem and then offer some potential solutions.
As it stands today the Catalog contains nearly 20 smells:
- Persistent Signatures
- ScrumMaster Assigns Work
- The Daily Scrum is For the ScrumMaster
- Specialized Job Roles
- Testers will not integrate with Team
- Reluctance to estimate Backlog Items
- Is It Really Done inspired by Henrik Kniberg
- Nothing Ever Changes Around Here inspired by Henrik Kniberg
- No One Wants to Attend Retrospectives, by Mark Levison
- Executive Pressure inspired by Henrik Kniberg
- Missing Sprint Commitment inspired by Henrik Kniberg
- Technical Debt inspired by Henrik Kniberg
- Not Acting Like a Team inspired by Henrik Kniberg
- No Engineering Practices, by Mark Levison
- Gorilla in the Room inspired by Mark Wainwright
But to improve this we need you help:
- Most smells need a better discussion
- Most smells are missing case studies
- More smells
Nothing Ever Gets Better Around Here
- Retrospective doesn’t happen
- No actionable items generated from Retrospective
- Actions aren’t taken
- Non-team members attend the meeting
- No one wants to talk
- The same issues come up time after time
If we’re not continuously improving we’re not really Agile. So what happened?
- Action Items if they exist, don’t have owners.
- Action Items get forgotten as soon as the Retrospective is over
- Team fails to improve
6. Example Remedies
- After discussing issues – ask team members to suggest concrete actions (see Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great for some great ideas).
- Ensure that action items are small and achievable.
- Ask a for one volunteer to own each action item.
- Action items can’t be assigned to people not present at the meeting.
- Discuss action items as part of the daily standup – at least a few times during the iteration.
- Post action items in a highly visible location
7. Case Studies
Credit: this is based on material from “10 ways to screw up with Scrum and XP” by Henrik Kniberg, and personal experience.
Mark Levison has been helping Scrum teams and organizations with Agile, Scrum and Kanban style approaches since 2001. From certified scrum master training to custom Agile courses, he has helped well over 8,000 individuals, earning him respect and top rated reviews as one of the pioneers within the industry, as well as a raft of certifications from the ScrumAlliance. Mark has been a speaker at various Agile Conferences for more than 20 years, and is a published Scrum author with eBooks as well as articles on InfoQ.com, ScrumAlliance.org an AgileAlliance.org.