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Fixing Your Scrum: Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems

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Cover image for Fixing Your Scrum

Fixing Your Scrum

Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems

by

Broken Scrum practices limit your organization’s ability to take full advantage of the agility Scrum should bring: The development team isn’t cross-functional or self-organizing, the product owner doesn’t get value for their investment, and stakeholders and customers are left wondering when something—anything—will get delivered. Learn how experienced Scrum masters balance the demands of these three levels of servant leadership, while removing organizational impediments and helping Scrum teams deliver real-world value. Discover how to visualize your work, resolve impediments, and empower your teams to self-organize and deliver using advanced coaching and facilitation techniques that honor and support the Scrum values and agile principles.

Customer Reviews

Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, often says that Scrum takes a moment to understand and a lifetime to master. Scrum isn’t hard to understand, but applying it is difficult because the environments in which Scrum plays are complex. People, organizations, business problems, suppliers, predefined processes, and behavioral norms all seem to work against this simple framework. In this book, Todd and Ryan provide practical remedies to these problems. They focus on ways that you can make your use of Scrum better, not because Scrum is important, but because—when applied well—Scrum can help you change the world. Scrum on!

- Dave West

CEO, Scrum.org

This book is a friendly and conversational partner for today’s Scrum Master. It provides real-world solutions to real-world problems that many teams face in pursuit of being truly self-organized and cross-functional. Ryan and Todd have identified some of the most common anti-patterns that result in bad experiences and less-than-optimal outcomes with Scrum–and encourage teams to face them with practical tools and humor.

- Melissa Boggs

Chief ScrumMaster, Scrum Alliance

Scrum: So few instructions, yet so many misunderstandings. Ryan and Todd offer you a multitude of ways to get your Scrum back on track. Not for the sake of Scrum or “theory,” but for the sake of addressing real-world problems. Use their combined experiences and expertise to remove long-lived obfuscation and fix your Scrum.

- Gunther Verheyen

Independent Scrum Caretaker

If everyone would follow Ryan and Todd’s vision of what a Scrum master should be, then Scrum (with Kanban, of course) would be near perfect!

- Daniel Vacanti

CEO, Actionable Agile

As an Agile coach, I constantly encounter organizations that are doing Scrum poorly and missing out on the great results and impact that Scrum can have. Ryan and Todd’s book has become my go-to initial action for these organizations —I hand them the book and tell them to read it and apply its simple yet powerful advice. It does a masterful job of helping teams fix their Scrum. Now I just hope it doesn’t impact my coaching practice too much!

- Bob Galen

Author and Agile Coach, Vaco

This book is an essential read for any Scrum team that wants to deliver value frequently and enjoy doing it. It illuminates the most common Scrum anti-patterns, explains their underlying causes, and offers practical ways to overcome them. You’ll appreciate both the directness and the humility in the authors’ positive approach to fixing your Scrum.

- Stephanie Ockerman

Professional Scrum Trainer and Author, Agile Socks, LLC

If people read this book before implementing with Scrum, they wouldn’t need to do much fixing! Ryan and Todd did an excellent job creating a well-structured compendium that you can read in order and/or use as a powerful reference. In particular, the Coach’s Corner section in each chapter is full of great, practical advice for every practicing Scrum master.

- Ralph Jocham

Founder of Effective Agile and author of "The Professional Product Owner"

This book is going to put a lot of consultants out of business. It has the answers to some of the really tough questions and stumbling points for those using Scrum. Concise, clear, and to the point, this book is a must-have for Agile practitioners.

- Dr. Charles Suscheck

CEO and Primary Trainer, Juniper Hill Associates

Ryan’s and Todd’s book is filled with practical solutions you can use to fix your Scrum. Every day, Scrum masters come to me asking for practical ideas they can quickly put into practice, and that’s exactly the kind of advice that Ryan and Todd have put together for this actionable, takeaway-oriented book. It’s a must-read for all Scrum masters who want to continuously improve their practice. Read it and then put it into practice!

- Vasco Duarte

Host, Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

Refreshing, practical, and down to earth. Fixing Your Scrum tackles day-to-day scenarios we’ve all seen as Scrum practitioners. Ryan and Todd avoid the dogma and instead share concrete solutions they’ve experimented with in the trenches, and explain what makes these solutions work in a Scrum context. This book deserves a prominent space on your Scrum/Agile bookshelf.

- Yuval Yeret

CTO, Agile Sparks

Todd and Ryan have assembled an invaluable reference for common Scrum missteps. If your organization and teams haven’t been realizing all of the benefits that Scrum and agility offer, this book offers lots of empathetic and practical guidance for improvement.

- Faye Thompson

Chair, Central Ohio Agile Assoc.

Wow—I’ve found my new go-to guide for Scrum team success! Ryan and Todd offer practical suggestions and guidance to fix almost every Scrum issue I’ve encountered over my 12 years as an Agile coach and Scrum master. They also provide exercises and self-reflective questions to help me improve my skills. This book will be invaluable to me and my future teams.

- Jill Graves

Agile Coach/Scrum Master, Simply Scrum

This book is an essential companion for both seasoned Scrum practitioners and those taking their first steps. Ryan and Todd balance expert Scrum guidance with pragmatic advice for all. A must-have handbook for anyone who’s serious about getting the best results possible with Scrum.

- Zach Bonaker

Agile Coach

Fixing Your Scrum is a concise, direct coaching accelerator for Scrum teams seeking remedies to their problems. Page after page, it’s full of thoughtful stories and wisdom-packed insights. This book is a must-read for all Scrum teams and managers!

- Nabila Safdar

Scrum Master, Do it Best Corp.

In agile circles, we’ve talked for some time about the negative effects of modifying the Scrum framework, but no one has recorded those effects in writing—until now. Ryan and Todd brilliantly explain the various Scrum modifications they’ve experienced, identify the impacts of those modifications, and give helpful tips on how to effectively apply the framework to get the outcomes you want. This book is a must-read for all Scrum practitioners and managers of Scrum teams.

- Joe Astolfi

Director of Agile, Columbus, OH

I would have loved to have had Ryan and Todd’s book a few years ago. Scrum seems so easy to understand, but it’s so difficult to master. Reading this book will save you from pitfalls and help you avoid painful moments.

- Olivier Ledru

Professional Scrum Trainer, Scrum.org, Paris, France

This is the book I wish I had when I started doing Scrum. Fixing Your Scrum will help you understand the “why” behind Scrum, empower you to debug the systemic dysfunctions that impede organizational agility, and show you what not to do (so you can avoid shooting yourself in the foot). Read it. Apply it. Give it to others.

- Ram Srinivasan

CST, CTC, PST, Scrum Alliance, Scrum.org, InnovAgility.com

Ryan and Todd know how to create team dynamics that are powerful and inspirational. They offer advice that’s very much worth your time to investigate and invest in.

- Ty Crockett

Director, Improving

Fixing your Scrum identifies numerous anti-patterns that I’ve seen in my long career of helping organizations transform and change and become more agile. I’ve found that identifying the anti-patterns that are present in an organization helps get them back on track quickly. I wish I’d had this playbook to give to clients before working with them and to leave with them after. You’ll see your organization and yourself in a lot of the examples in this book. Use its advice to ensure that you’re inspecting and adapting your practices to make them better.

- Dave Dame

Vice President of Global Agile, Scotiabank

Fixing your Scrum is about the future of Scrum teams around the world. It’s a wonderful book about business value, empowerment, and quality, and it not only shows how these puzzle pieces fit together but also explains why. To all the Scrum team members out there who know that something’s not right, this book can help you fix your Scrum now!

- Joe Krebs

Founder, Incrementor

Todd and Ryan hit a grand slam with this book. It’s extremely thorough and easy to follow. I like that I can turn to a section of interest and get the information I’m seeking. It will be a must-read for everyone at Itero Group. I can’t wait to pass out hard copies to our employees during orientations.

- Jim Bailoni

COO, Itero Group

Ryan and Todd have curated a thoughtful collection of the most common issues faced by Scrum practitioners with a wealth of solutions based on their experiences, which they share in colorful detail. I’ll recommend this book to my students and clients as an excellent reference in the team room when Scrum gets hard.

- Jason Tanner

CEO and Co-founder, applied frameworks

In this book, Ryan and Todd share their experiences to help break down some of the most common challenges Scrum teams face. This is an immensely practical book I wish I’d had when I started using Scrum, and it’s the book I still need for my work today.

- Patricia Kong

Product Owner, Enterprise Solutions, Scrum.org

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What You Need

A moderate level of experience using the Scrum Framework.

Resources

Contents & Extracts

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
    • Who This Book Is For
    • What’s in this Book
    • How to Read This Book
    • Online Resources
  • A Brief Introduction to Scrum
    • A Quick Overview
  • Why Scrum Goes Bad
    • Turning Scrum into Best Practices
    • Lacking Goals
    • Taylorism Creeping Back in
    • Trust is Missing
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Breaking Bad Scrum with a Value-Driven Approach
    • Reviewing the Scrum Values
    • Using the Scrum Values Every Step of the Way
    • The Scrum Values in Action
    • Coach’s Corner
  • The Product Owner
    • Many Product Owners, One Product
    • The Part-time Product Owner
    • The Proxy Product Owner
    • The Commander in Chief
    • The Scrum Master + Product Owner
    • Not Having a Clear Vision
    • Coach’s Corner
  • The Product Backlog
    • One Product, Many Product Backlogs
    • Too Many (or Too Few) PBIs
    • Inconsistent PBI Formats
    • The Static Product Backlog
    • Today’s Forecast: Frustrated Stakeholders
    • The Unordered Product Backlog
    • Coach’s Corner
  • The Development Team
    • Lacking Necessary Skills
    • That’s Not My Job
    • Cutting Corners
    • Everyone for Themselves
    • Wait Your Turn
    • The Team Is Too Big
    • Not Taking the Initiative
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Embracing the Scrum Master Role
    • No One on My Team Knows Scrum
    • Help! I’m the Impediment
    • The Superhero Scrum Master
    • The Rotating Scrum Master
    • So Many Impediments, So Little Time
    • The Dreaded Scrum Lord
    • Turning into a Scrum Secretary
    • Acting as the Janitor
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Management
    • Unprepared for Conversations
    • Expecting Too Much From One Conversation
    • Not Being Curious about Management’s Needs
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Thinking in Sprints excerpt
    • We Need a Special Sprint
    • Let’s Change the Sprint Length
    • Scrum Has Too Many Meetings
    • Using Sprint Cancellations to Change Scope
    • Follow the Requirements or Else
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Sprint Planning
    • Marathon Planning Events
    • Leaving Sprint Planning without a Sprint Goal
    • Maxing Out the Team
    • Letting Debt Build Up
    • Coach’s Corner
  • The Sprint Backlog
    • Caution: Developers Burning Down
    • Committing to the Sprint Backlog
    • Update the Board!
    • The Daily Projector Update
    • Waiting on a Miracle
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Reclaiming the Daily Scrum
    • The Daily Scrum as Status Meeting
    • The Twice-a-Week Scrum
    • Not All Voices Are Heard
    • The Team Isn’t Making Progress
    • Punishing Tardiness
    • The 45-Minute Scrum
    • The Team is Raising False Impediments
    • Coach’s Corner
  • Deconstructing the Done Product Increment
    • We Haven’t Defined “Done”
    • Cutting Quality to Hit a Release Date
    • We’ll Finish That Later
    • Coach’s Corner
  • The Sprint Review
    • Stakeholders Aren’t Involved
    • The Product Owner as Judge
    • Presenting Undone Work
    • Treating Sprint Reviews like Demos
    • There’s an ‘I’ in Team
    • The Stagnant Sprint Review
    • Skipping It
    • The Standing Ovation
    • Coach’s Corner
  • The Sprint Retrospective excerpt
    • Few Bother to Attend
    • Superficial Commitments
    • Meaningless Improvements
    • 50% Participation
    • Skipping It
    • The Complaint Session
    • Coach’s Corner

Author

A professional Scrum trainer with Scrum.org, Ryan Ripley has worked as a software developer, manager, director, and Scrum Master at various Fortune 500 companies in the medical device, wholesale, and financial services industries. He is host of “Agile for Humans,” the top agile podcast on iTunes. Ryan lives in Indiana with his wife, Kristin, and three children. He blogs at ryanripley.com and is on Twitter @ryanripley.

Todd Miller has practical experience as a Scrum Master, Product Owner, Software Developer, and Agile coach on a variety of technical and creative projects across a multitude of industries. He has been a professional Scrum trainer with Scrum.org since 2016. Todd lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Jessica and two children. His blogs can be found on the Scrum.org website and his twitter handle is @todd_miller11.