Dysfunction Junction: Share Yours!
We need your help! Agile Velocity is putting together a video about Scrum dysfunction and are looking for input on what dysfunctions to cover and what tips to offer.
Here are some dysfunctions we see to get the creative juices flowing:
DYSFUNCTION: Someone starts a side discussion while others are talking
DYSFUNCTION: Someone rambles on until they’re asked to move on
And here are some tips and tricks we like to use:
TIP: Have a talking ball that the team passes around
TIP: Create a rule to keep long talkers to a minimum like the ELMO rule (Enough Let’s Move On)
What problems has your team encountered? How did you solve it? What worked, what didn’t? Please share your dysfunctions and tips with us below in the comments.
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16 Responses to “Dysfunction Junction: Share Yours!”
When someone is reporting what they are working on, moves it into a discussion with others, and the scrum master doesn’t do anything to “parking lot the discussion.”
Tip: Parking lot the discussion for after the stand up with the people who are needed.
Dysfunction: “We don’t have time to automate our testing.”
Tip: Do it a little at a time. Chip away at it, with a commitment that all new testing will be automated.
Dysfunction: Boringly repetitive retrospectives.
Tip: Get Derby and Larsen’s “Agile Retrospectives” and/or Kua’s “The Retrospective Handbook”. Change it up, and rotate the facilitator.
Dysfunction: Manager or Product Manager tries to drive estimates.
Tip: Explain and establish working agreements.
Too much or too little detail brought to daily scrum.
Tip: Think in terms of what the rest of the team needs to know and be succinct.
Negative feedback (verbal or non-verbal).
Tip: Promote and encourage collaboration by responding with constructive criticism. Keep an open mind to every idea or approach of teammates.
Dysfunction: Someone is looking at their phone or distracted during the stand up
Tip: Giving your undivided attention shows each person they are important and valued. Builds team collaboration
Dysfunction: I’ve seen this happen. Someone (management or team members) saying, “I don’t care what’s blocking you, just get it done!”
Tip: Ignoring the facts doesn’t change them. Figure out the root cause of the issue as a team and work to remove it. Make a note to discuss it with your team in the retrospective meeting. Making blockers for in-progress work highly visible is recommended for a reason. Resolving and removing impediments is crucial to team morale and execution.
Dysfunction: “Our Retrospectives are useless, because nothing ever changes.”
While this can have multiple (and layered) causes, it is often the result of attempting too many improvements at one time.
Tip: Pick one (or at most two) items to work on and improve in the next iteration. Ask about progress during each daily Scrum/stand-up. At the next retrospective, discuss the item, the results, why or why not they were obtained, and what has been learned.
Dysfunction: Tasks that have been started, but have not moved for days.
Tip: Team should hold each other responsible, act as a team, and help one another to get all tasks done. Ask the task owner during standup “What will it take to complete task X?” Then, make a plan to get the task done.
When a person leaves mid-standup to take a call and then returns to ask “what have I missed” it would throw off the sync-up, so NO calls taken during this time is important.
Thanks for the comment, Ashlee.
Dysfunction: Team does not pay attention to action/improvement items from the last retrospective.
Tip: The ScrumMaster is responsible for making the items visible to the team. Some teams write them on a piece of paper and hang it in the team room, or where standup occurs. Other teams create a “Retro items” story and track subtasks on the Scrum board. In any case, the ScrumMaster should remind the team halfway through the Sprint of the things they have chosen to address.
Dysfunction: Non-participation in Retros.
Tip: Safety check. Divide into small teams. Make Retro interactive with presentations. Have every stand up and move around room to change groups.
Dysfunction: any complaint that you hear.
Tip: put it on a sticky and bring it up to the team at the end of standup in order for the team to resolve the dysfunction.
Dysfunction: conducting a retrospective and not applying the learnings in the next sprint or release.
Tip: Discuss how the learnings will be applied (next sprint or next release) during the retrospective, and assign the learning to the responsible person or group. Then celebrate when things are fixed. Make sure to acknowledge how applying the learnings have improved the process, decreased defects, etc.