Jessica started a project as scrum master with a team of 9 members that include 6 developers, 1 business analyst and 2 quality analysts. The team runs bi-weely sprints. At the end of 8th sprint, she had a review meeting with Mithali, her Delivery Manager. Mithali pointed out that there are no visible improvements on the team’s performance. There were more specific questions; velocity has not improved, Number of bugs on completed story cards are increasing, Technical Debt list is growing, Identified parking lot items are not addressed. After the meeting, Jessica was wondering why there are no visible improvement in spite of following all the scrum practices like Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning Meetings, Sprint Showcases, Retrospectives and Unit Tests with out fail. What are your suggestions to Jessica to understand and fix her situation.


Suggested solution:

The situation calls for discussion at different levels with more stakeholders. To highlight a few key points:

– Jessica needs some basic coaching on Agile philosophy and values – she has been perhaps trained on Agile / Scrum more as a process or methodology.
– Since this is Jessica’s first project as Scrum Master, probably, her manager could have advised her pro-actively on what are the symptoms and how to smell it early.
– One of the key reasons for Agile implementations failure is that the teams and management do not understand the linkage between the core philosophy / values and the practices followed. If the values and principles are internalized, practices would start yielding the desired results.
– There may be a team composition issue also. Either team would not have had enough agile experience or people with right skill and capability or not part of the team.

To watch out:

1. Team formation and composition had to be thought through. There should be enough people with Agile experience.
2. Having experienced coach as a mentor
3. Earlier intervention is extremely important for the success of an agile project
4. It is important to follow agile practices with true spirit rather than following it as mere ritual