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Five ways to Spot Fake Scrum

May 17, 2021

Fake Scrum is around us everywhere we go. It's unavoidable. Just look on the internet lookup fake Scrum right now and you're going to find all kinds of interesting articles that describe Scrum in very weird ways. There are at least five ways you can tell if you've got fake Scrum going on.


  1. No goals: If a Scrum team has absolutely no goals, what's the purpose of its existence? All good teams have goals. Scrum bakes the concept of goals right into the framework. We have product goals, which are a commitment to the Product Backlog. And then we have Sprint Goals, which are a commitment to the Sprint Backlog. Those goals are designed to help us achieve focus, get stuff done, and get results. If you don't have goals, you've got fake Scrum.


  1. No Self-management: A team that can't self-manage is a team that can't be nimble. They're not going to be quick. They're going to stall. They're going to wait to ask questions. They'll always be asking for their boss's approval. Teams like this are very slow and the whole point of being agile is to be nimble, right? So, if it doesn't feel like they're being nimble, I’d look a little deeper. Self-management (or a lack thereof) is a really common problem. It can happen from a lack of trust with the boss or the business. It can come from a lack of trust for each other as team members. Wherever your problems are, self-management is crucial to have working in order for Scrum to work. If you don't have self-managing going on it's probably fake Scrum.


  1. No deliverables: No increment at the end of the Sprint. The entire point of Scrum is to have releasable increments for every single Sprint. Without that, well, we're just cranking a bunch of levers. To get to a deliverable it's sometimes kind of challenging. You have to write requirements in such a way that something can be delivered in just a short time frame. Now you get to choose the size of your Sprint length. Anything less than 30 days is perfectly fine and if you can't build something in under 30 days, I have to ask you what's going on here? Sounds like fake Scrum.


  1. No transparency: Without transparency, I can't inspect, I can't adapt… and if I can't inspect and adapt, well then, the entire empirical process falls apart. If the entire empirical process is falling apart, you have fake Scrum. Scrum is built upon this engine. Scrum is built upon the idea that we make things transparent. We inspect and adapt at the appropriate frequency and that's how we manage all the complexity of product development. We certainly can't eliminate complexity, but we can work with it. So, if you don't have transparency, you’ve got fake Scrum.


  1. No results: If you've got stakeholders that don't see a difference they don't care if they do they're not engaged they're not talking to your team they're not talking to your product owner if you aren't delivering results then what's the point of your work in the first place if there is no point you're probably doing fake scrum

If you've got any other comments about what fake scrum might look like do leave those down in the comments.

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