Weaknesses of agile and Scrum

Jira is agile: do you use Jira and Confluence and consider this one of the main reasons contributing to your agility? Congratulations, you are part of the problem.

Boring Backlog: fixed really hard bug? Implemented complex algorithm or cut processing time from 10 hours to 22 seconds? It doesn’t matter, just pick another thing from backlog. Scrum/backlog promotes code monkeys where good effort isn’t rewarded. Personal efforts don’t matter.

Story points implementation: as long as story is implemented, quality or tech-debt doesn’t matter. All that matters is moving the story to “done” column. PO is happy because velocity is up, SM is happy because it means story was well planned, developer is happy because they “did” something.

Introduction of tech-debt or low quality code doesn’t matter - they will be fixed later. What’s worse, in many organisations bugs are something normal, even worse: expected in high quantity. Bugs should be exceptions, not planned for in high quantities. I’ve seen and heard about places where bugs have own ’ticket’ in a sprint, but are always worth 0 points, almost like fixing delivery of a value doesn’t deliver a value? Would your team even agree to put story point on writing a technical documentation? Like documenting your Java code?

Story points and velocity: I know now it’s called sprint for a reason. You’re expected to run fast to deliver the points. The more points you deliver, the higher the expectation will be next time. You are setting yourself for a sprint to burnout and madness. Your PO or exec board member will be disappointed when you deliver only 25 story points instead 29. Try to deliver 33 next time.

Just google “scrum velocity” to find diagrams like this one forecasting your commitment on failure:

scrum velocity

Scrum Guide changed wording from ‘commitment’ to ‘forecast’ hoping it would clarify the confusion about what velocity is.

PO/PM/SAFe - Big corps will use agile framework called SAFe want to be agile without adopting agile values. They just want to call themselves agile for PR benefits. There are even companies that specialise in agile-SAFe-PR. They convert big waterfall companies to “agile companies” by “restructuring”. This means nothing, but changing title of ones job to fit “agile” buzzwords. Project micromanager is now Scrum Master, only 2 hours of “agile” training required. Senior developer is now a team leader - never trained in leadership or psychological maturity. The company is still top-bottom driven with waterfall culture, at least they are Scrum certified. Developer was fired for a bug that was fund by an important customer. 6 days long outage never got any post-mortem, no lessons learnt. Daily standup wasn’t necessary because no work could be done.

Ceremonies: poorly trained SM with no personal itch to do agile correctly will destroy agile culture and demotivate skilled developers.

Daily standup: lasting 1 hour, attended by higher management turns into dick-measuring contest “look how much I did yesterday and I’m going to do even more today!” or “I worked really hard please don’t fire me”.

Sprint planning: led by higher management or PO. Where developers and testers can’t add their things, because product and agility to customer needs is most important value. Fixing tech debt, adding test coverage, improving automation pipeline are seen as a waste, as they don’t add value, aren’t pointed, so don’t contribute to higher velocity for which PO/PM will be financially rewarded.

Retrospective: that is nothing, but echo chamber. All the same issues repeated for 2 years. Can we have this thing automated finally? Can Mark finally leave his comfort zone for once and explain to the customer this functionality isn’t possible by end of next quarter?

Backlog grooming with high-priority items that are 5 years old, can’t delete them because they’re still important for someone who left the company 3 years ago. We don’t remember why they are important, but they are because someone (or Jira) says so. Never going to be worked on because they don’t fit in Q1, Q2 and Q3. What’s your oldest item in backlog?

Sprint duration: normally 2-4 weeks, but when opportunity comes (December?), sprint will last 5-6 weeks rather than 1-2 weeks. I’ve often seen team managers preferring one 6 weeks long sprint, over three 2 weeks long sprints. <Put something about iterations and learning from them>

Company culture: (quoting) Before COVID we used to play pool in the office. We’re considering hiring DevOps engineer, but we’re not sure what they would even do. Our developers could write pipelines, if they had time and we saw value in it.

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