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Give Scrum A Break!

July 2, 2023
Stuck in a boring, neverending, meaningless Scrum rhythm? Give Scrum a break, and rethink what approach suits your team the best!

Give Scrum A Break❗

That was my advice to a Scrum Team I recently worked with. It was received with surprise 😯 , and shock 😲 , but mostly relief 😅.

For teams that use Product- and Sprint Goals, this moment comes naturally. You celebrate the achievement of a certain goal and select a new goal. A goal to deliver value for your stakeholders. 🎯

A perfectly fine question to frequently ask is:

What is the most effective approach to help us achieve this goal? Scrum, Kanban, XP, or… 🤔

Illustrations of a Scrum Team working together

I’m not saying to change your approach each Sprint, that’s probably too chaotic and not helpful either. But too often I see teams that are stuck in the following:

  • They started Sprint #241
  • They stopped using Product- and Sprint Goals a long time ago (if they used them at all)
  • Team members are stressed, tired, and/or bored because of this everlasting, and endless Scrum rhythm
  • They would love to catch a breath, take a break, or stop, but it isn’t possible because they’re stuck in a company-wide Sprint rhythm

My advice to these teams is: break free! 💥

Especially as a Scrum Master, your advice should sometimes be to stop with Scrum (for a while or forever). A good Scrum Master isn’t stuck to Scrum and supports the team with an approach that suits them the best.

“A good Scrum Master isn’t stuck to Scrum and supports the team with an approach that suits them the best.”

With our own company — The Liberators — Christiaan Verwijs and I also use a Sprint rhythm. Based on long-term Product Goals, we use weekly Sprint Goals. Although we don’t use all the Scrum events strictly, we do use similar events to check our progress toward our goals. 🎯

And yet, despite we love the goal-driven approach, we also have weeks in which we don’t set a goal at all. Setting goals week after week is fun 🎉 & valuable 💰, but it also creates pressure. Sometimes we really need a break, catch a breath, and just do what we feel like doing. Which also could be nothing. 🤷‍♂️

Interestingly, the weeks that don’t have a specific goal, are often the weeks in which innovation takes place. Some of the most creative products, materials, or content have been created in the weeks with the least pressure!

So don’t blindly & mechanically move from one Sprint to the next one. Be critical. Continuously pick the approach that suits you the best. A framework, process, or methodology should support you, and not become a burden.

What’s your take on this? Feel free to share your experiences. Let’s learn and grow, together!

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