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12 Common Mistakes Of The Scrum Master And The Remedies 

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Last updated on
31st Mar, 2021
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19th Feb, 2018
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12 Common Mistakes Of The Scrum Master And The Remedies 

Today, companies are becoming a part of the massive technological leapfrogging through some of the popular Agile methodologies. When we talk about Agile, people think of “Scrum” naturally. Scrum is the most widely used framework among the popular organizations. These organizations leverage Agile and Scrum methods for a disciplined project management practice, as Agile encourages continual feedback, iterative development, rapid and high-quality delivery and iterative development.

                                        “Life of the Scrum Master is full of challenges, Scrum problems, and Scrum pitfalls.”

According to the “11th Annual State of Agile Report” by Version One, the following figure states the top reasons for adopting Agile and Scrum methodologies in organizations.

The concept is simple but difficult to implement. Being a Scrum Master can be a tough task, if unaware of the Scrum Master’s skills. Here are the most common mistakes of the Scrum Master and the solutions while implementing a Scrum framework:

1.Scrum Master acting as a Project Manager-

In the Agile methodology, companies follow the “Daily Scrums”. Before starting the day’s work, teams gather around the board to discuss the current and the preceding days’ tasks. Usually, team members report on ‘what they did yesterday’, and wait for the Scrum Master’s reply on ‘which task to do today’, instead of self-organizing within the team.

This is where the Scrum Master makes a mistake. He is acting as a Manager, not as a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master should ideally make team members ask ‘what should be finished next?’ 

2.Scrum Master making decisions for the Team-

In most of the organizations, Scrum Masters are recruited by practical experience (generally senior developers and the project leads are given priority) and by personality in terms of communication skills and the sound mind to carry out decisions to keep the project processes on track. Due to this, team members rely on the Scrum Master for each and every decision, which is totally wrong. 

Most of the times, teams consist of a variety of different personalities and letting them express their opinions can help to deliver the best. Avoid dictatorship, as it affects the team spirit, stifles progress and results in a lack of communication among the team members. This is one of the common Scrum pitfalls a Scrum Master typically faces during work.

3.Scrum Master holding sole responsibility for the delivery-

This is the common Scrum problem usually found in traditional companies, that have recently entered in the world of Agile development. In traditional companies, people were so far following the leadership style viz. ‘Command-and-control’, in which a single person used to be accountable for all the project tasks, making management impediments-free, simple, and more comforting. 

Normally, Scrum Master ensures that the developers are inclined to all the project requirements. But when it comes to the responsibility of the Scrum Master to deliver the product, he/she just concentrates on the product delivery, ignoring the quality. To avoid this, stop planning projects individually. Planning is collectively done by the team members. It needs each and every team member to adhere to the commitments, to understand the target and the way to achieve that.

4.Scrum Master acting as a mediator between the Team and the Product Owner-

Suppose the team has finished with the daily Scrum and started to construct a functionality which was recently planned for the meeting. But the team is facing some difficulties and needs to discuss with the Product Owner to get an information. At this point, the Scrum Master communicates with the Product Owner to remove communication barriers and furnishes the needs of the team members. After asking the relevant queries to the Product Owner, the Scrum Master relays the same to the team.  



In this way, Scrum Master acts as a mediator between the team members and the Product Owner and forms a Scrum solution to overcome communication impediments.

5. Not conducting Retrospectives after every Sprint-

One of the principles from the Agile Manifesto states that- “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly”. Sprint Retrospective is often considered as an add-on, and implemented only in free time. Agile is all about the adjustments, fine-tuning and versatility. It is really very difficult to fine tune if you seek for the adjustments every time.

6. Not removing obstacles at an initial stage-

One of the main roles of the Scrum Master is to remove the impediments. The daily stand-ups is the best way to communicate the obstacles to get the task done. But in case these barriers (more correctly, the issues or constraints) are not escalated by the team members, Scrum Master will fail to remove them. Scrum Master should remind the team at the very beginning to present the potential blockades which might delay their work.

7. Less/ No daily stand-ups-

The daily scrum is pivotal from several aspects. It allows open communication (face-to-face), collaboration, yields visibility and transparency into the project. So, for every team member, attendance should be mandatory. During meeting, each team member should stick to the following 3 questions- 

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I work on today?
  3. What impediments are blocking me in achieving the project goals?

It should, however, be noted that the teams do not have to restrict themselves to the above three questions. As per the tenets presented in the latest Scrum guide, discussion-based stand-ups are equally effective and provide insights into the latest happenings in the Scrum team.

8. Not strictly adhering to the Agile Manifesto principles-

Try to keep Agile startups uncomplicated. According to Agile Manifesto- Agile gives higher value on  ‘individuals and interactions than on processes and tools’. So, Agile projects can be successful without the use of the tools. You can use stickers on the wall, spreadsheets, and manual burndown charts to keep the process simple.

9. Wrongly assuming an easy transition to Agile-

Agile transformation takes time to set up in the organization. It always starts with mess-ups. Transformation includes dealing with the existing corporate and cultural problems like- poor communication, lack of accountability, skeptics, time management, etc. Effective Agile transformation can be a total cultural change. Be patient and ready to embrace the cultural changes.

10. An ill-formed/non-prioritized product backlog-

The most common reason behind Sprint failure is a product backlog with status “not ready”. It is also a cause for delivering low value. Making a backlog ready before the ‘next sprint’ is good. Do not let the team run out of the tasks and keep in mind that every task should be prioritized by the Product Owner.Always heed the point that being a Product Owner or a Scrum Master can be time consuming.So set the goals and provide the necessary training on product backlog to the team members. 

11. Not handing over the ownership of daily scrums to the team- 

Sometimes, Scrum team keeps some of the product backlog items undone. This results in spilling over of the undone tasks and simply shifting to the next sprint. This happens when a team fails to finish the high-priority tasks. However, Scrum Master and the team should not take it lightly. When they do this, Sprint planning become meaningless. Therefore it is mandatory on the part of a Scrum Master to support his/her team in planning of its next sprint so that they can finish everything on time. Equally essential is to make them feel accountable if they do meet the targets and the stipulated deadlines.

12. Overburdening the Scrum team- 

Scrum team works in Sprints. Only when one sprint ends, the next one begins. Under no circumstances should two consecutive sprints overlap. In simpler words, teams should avoid working in the upcoming sprint while the current sprint is still on. To maintain consistency, the team should work at a sustainable pace. A Scrum Master should safeguard the team from going beyond this sustainable pace and tackle any situation that might overburden the members.

Concluding Thoughts-

Scrum, as you already know, is one of the largest and promising frameworks in Agile methodology. One can in fact strongly say, a paradigm shift has occurred with the advent of Scrum. It is therefore important for the companies to practise Agile in a correct way to build the products and deploy them faster to the market. Therefore, being a Scrum Master, it is pivotal to avoid the above mentioned Scrum problems to successfully launch the product in the market.

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