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How to protect your organization from Zombie Scrum?

Crawling and hiding behind the Scrum boards and scribbling on them with the whiteboard markers, the Scrum ghosts are here. They are the waggish, mindless herds of testers and developers, who are sobbing for the change around all sort of silly Scrum activities. Identifying teams who behave this way is needed and acting according to that is essential. Knowing the reason could probably save others from this evolution outbreak. What is a Zombie Scrum? At the very first sight, a Zombie Scrum will exactly mimic a normal scrum. The only indecipherable difference is, it lacks the beating heart of a working software. Normally the Scrum teams do all events revolving around scrum, but rarely get the result of a sprint. They don’t care to improve their situation as even the stakeholders are not interested in remembering their existence. Let’s discuss the symptoms, causes and the treatment for a Zombie Scrum. Symptoms of Zombie Scrum Absence of beating heart The Zombie Scrum teams may exhibit all kinds of Scrum motions but there is no working software. Lack of this “beating heart” makes the team less ambitious and limits their activities. There is no proper goal for the Zombie Team. Zombie Scrum doesn’t care about the working of software, assembling feedbacks and generating insights. Lack of connection with outside world A Zombie Scrum always prefers to hide away from others and maintain a familiar surrounding. If a product fails to reach customer expectation, the Zombie Scrum would simply justify their point saying- “I am only here to code”. They do not consider what’s taking place in both upstream and downstream of the value chain. No visible reaction to success and failure The absence of connection with the outside world often leads to this symptom. Zombie Scrum has no reaction as to whether the sprint was a success or a failure. They will probably move out by showing numb resignation. The morale of the team is very low, almost like a lifeless body. Items in the Sprint Backlog gets carried to the next Sprint and the iterations are present. Deprivation of Improvement There is no drive for improvement in the Zombie Scrum. At the Sprint Review or during its planning the product owner is hardly available. The Zombie Scrum teams are highly unstable and there is no Scrum Master present for the scrum team to improve. Lack of team experience with regards to past success rate makes the team sob. When and why do Zombie Scrums develop? Bit too Homegrown When a team decides to do the ‘daily scrum’ on a bi-weekly basis, only the partial scrum is adopted. This results in loss of benefits and the team will have to struggle a lot. Lack of Urgency One of the potential reasons which results in a lack of urgency is that there is no real understanding of value. Due to this, the Scrum teams struggle hard to set and achieve their goals. Mismatch with Agile values Zombie Scrum is the result of mismatching agile principles. A Zombie Scrum considers the whole process of Scrum for its own sake. They always believe that a working software is a  nice thing to have and it’s not necessary for them to keep the sprint live till the end. Scrum Cherry picking It is basically a partial and a careless adoption of the Scrum. Some examples of cherry picking are- Cancelling the Sprint review and Sprint retrospective, extending the Sprint for a couple of days etc. Implying Contracts Processing acquired knowledge and adopting the insights are supported by a value-driven contract. In Agile, the customer expects the proper budget, time and quality of the product. But for a product built in Zombie Scrum atmosphere, the result is not satisfactory. Treating Zombie Scrum Be a Zombie-Whisperer Having a good start talk with the Zombie Scrum is essential. Identifying the potential constraints and finding the proper solutions will lead to a healthy Scrum. Welcoming Healthy Scrum Taking the management and teams on a Scrum safari in other companies will show them how healthy Scrum functions in an organization. It also helps them to bring the Agile coaches together to understand and implement Scrum in a better way. Changing ways to do it Changing the way to implement Scrum can make a lot of difference. Starting from reviewing the Sprint goal on a daily basis, using proper roadmaps to context review meeting and finally a transformational approach to all the problems,  is the best way to implement Scrum. Including the Scrum Community Larger the community, greater will be the adoption of the Scrum. You won’t be the only person fighting against the Zombie Scrum. Visiting the Scrum meetups and local Agile, using scrum.org or Facebook to follow fellow Agile coaches and Scrum Masters etc can help a lot. Avoiding Agile Contracting Principles It starts from accomplishing one Sprint at a time. Try not to sell or buy the entire Scrum team. While working with a fixed team, you will always know the velocity of each sprint. So you have to wisely choose while selling or buying Sprints. Fixing the Smell-O-Meter Offering transparency is like smelling everyone’s experience in an organization. An awareness of bad smell and good smell is necessary, as the bad smell will always serve as a trail to detect Zombie Scrum. By knowing the reasons behind the emergence of Zombie Scrum and ways to deal with it, you could probably reduce their population. So be courageous and act before there is an outbreak of Zombie Scrum.
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How to protect your organization from Zombie Scrum?

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How to protect your organization from Zombie Scrum?

Crawling and hiding behind the Scrum boards and scribbling on them with the whiteboard markers, the Scrum ghosts are here. They are the waggish, mindless herds of testers and developers, who are sobbing for the change around all sort of silly Scrum activities. Identifying teams who behave this way is needed and acting according to that is essential. Knowing the reason could probably save others from this evolution outbreak.

What is a Zombie Scrum?

At the very first sight, a Zombie Scrum will exactly mimic a normal scrum. The only indecipherable difference is, it lacks the beating heart of a working software. Normally the Scrum teams do all events revolving around scrum, but rarely get the result of a sprint. They don’t care to improve their situation as even the stakeholders are not interested in remembering their existence.

Let’s discuss the symptoms, causes and the treatment for a Zombie Scrum.

Symptoms of Zombie Scrum

  • Absence of beating heart

The Zombie Scrum teams may exhibit all kinds of Scrum motions but there is no working software. Lack of this “beating heart” makes the team less ambitious and limits their activities. There is no proper goal for the Zombie Team. Zombie Scrum doesn’t care about the working of software, assembling feedbacks and generating insights.

  • Lack of connection with outside world

A Zombie Scrum always prefers to hide away from others and maintain a familiar surrounding. If a product fails to reach customer expectation, the Zombie Scrum would simply justify their point saying- “I am only here to code”. They do not consider what’s taking place in both upstream and downstream of the value chain.

  • No visible reaction to success and failure

The absence of connection with the outside world often leads to this symptom. Zombie Scrum has no reaction as to whether the sprint was a success or a failure. They will probably move out by showing numb resignation. The morale of the team is very low, almost like a lifeless body. Items in the Sprint Backlog gets carried to the next Sprint and the iterations are present.

  • Deprivation of Improvement

There is no drive for improvement in the Zombie Scrum. At the Sprint Review or during its planning the product owner is hardly available. The Zombie Scrum teams are highly unstable and there is no Scrum Master present for the scrum team to improve. Lack of team experience with regards to past success rate makes the team sob.

When and why do Zombie Scrums develop?

  • Bit too Homegrown

When a team decides to do the ‘daily scrum’ on a bi-weekly basis, only the partial scrum is adopted. This results in loss of benefits and the team will have to struggle a lot.

  • Lack of Urgency

One of the potential reasons which results in a lack of urgency is that there is no real understanding of value. Due to this, the Scrum teams struggle hard to set and achieve their goals.

  • Mismatch with Agile values

Zombie Scrum is the result of mismatching agile principles. A Zombie Scrum considers the whole process of Scrum for its own sake. They always believe that a working software is a  nice thing to have and it’s not necessary for them to keep the sprint live till the end.

  • Scrum Cherry picking

It is basically a partial and a careless adoption of the Scrum. Some examples of cherry picking are- Cancelling the Sprint review and Sprint retrospective, extending the Sprint for a couple of days etc.

  • Implying Contracts

Processing acquired knowledge and adopting the insights are supported by a value-driven contract. In Agile, the customer expects the proper budget, time and quality of the product. But for a product built in Zombie Scrum atmosphere, the result is not satisfactory.

Treating Zombie Scrum

  • Be a Zombie-Whisperer

Having a good start talk with the Zombie Scrum is essential. Identifying the potential constraints and finding the proper solutions will lead to a healthy Scrum.

  • Welcoming Healthy Scrum

Taking the management and teams on a Scrum safari in other companies will show them how healthy Scrum functions in an organization. It also helps them to bring the Agile coaches together to understand and implement Scrum in a better way.

  • Changing ways to do it

Changing the way to implement Scrum can make a lot of difference. Starting from reviewing the Sprint goal on a daily basis, using proper roadmaps to context review meeting and finally a transformational approach to all the problems,  is the best way to implement Scrum.

  • Including the Scrum Community

Larger the community, greater will be the adoption of the Scrum. You won’t be the only person fighting against the Zombie Scrum. Visiting the Scrum meetups and local Agile, using scrum.org or Facebook to follow fellow Agile coaches and Scrum Masters etc can help a lot.

  • Avoiding Agile Contracting Principles

It starts from accomplishing one Sprint at a time. Try not to sell or buy the entire Scrum team. While working with a fixed team, you will always know the velocity of each sprint. So you have to wisely choose while selling or buying Sprints.

  • Fixing the Smell-O-Meter

Offering transparency is like smelling everyone’s experience in an organization. An awareness of bad smell and good smell is necessary, as the bad smell will always serve as a trail to detect Zombie Scrum.

By knowing the reasons behind the emergence of Zombie Scrum and ways to deal with it, you could probably reduce their population. So be courageous and act before there is an outbreak of Zombie Scrum.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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Scrum Product Backlog and Agile Product Backlog Prioritization

The twenty century has witnessed a major surge in the adoption of Agile with organizations trying to fit into their ways of working to better meet customer demands. As per the 14th Annual State of Agile 2020, 58% of the respondents were using Scrum as the framework for product delivery. The report also mentioned that many considered Agile and Scrum to be the same, which is incorrect. Agile is a way or method of implementing frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban and the like. It is a time-boxed, iterative way of software delivery focusing on faster time to market and customer collaboration. Scrum is a subset of Agile. With a great framework like Scrum, Agile gets a runway to deliver quality products in an iterative, incremental, and time-boxed manner. Talking of product development, whatever the framework, we must start with the creation of the requirement list. This applies to Agile too. Here, we term this as “Backlog”. I am often asked about the origin of the term, “Backlog”. Why “backlog” and why not some other word? Well, the term dates back to the 1680s when large logs were placed at the back of a fire to keep the blaze going and concentrate the heat. By the 1880s, the term was adopted in its figurative sense of "something stored up for later use". So, a Backlog is a prioritized list of items the teams’ need to work for the successful delivery of a product. How extensively are Scrum artifacts, and in particular, the product backlog and sprint backlog used? Source: 14th State of Agile 2020According to the State of Scrum 2015 report, surprisingly, only 56% of the respondents reported using extensive scrum artifacts like Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog. Major success criteria for any Agile project lie in its backlog and it demands a lot of focus both in terms of keeping it refined and updated with current situation. Thankfully, it is the topic of the day, and here we will talk more about it.Product Backlog  What is a Product Backlog? The Product Backlog is the ordered list of requirements of all that is required to successfully deliver it to the client. It contains the prioritized list of requirements that can be detailed or vague and has everything that needs to be done for a particular product. One can visualize it as a big bucket that has all the items/necessities needed for a product to be successful and competitive in nature.  Who owns the Product Backlog? The Product Backlog is primarily handled by the Product Owner who takes care of the client's needs and makes sure the product backlog represents the exact requirement. The product owner is responsible for keeping the backlog healthy and in a state that is readily consumable by the team. The product backlog is never frozen, the items can change as per the demand and market scenario. Anyone can suggest items to be added in the list but the final say will always be on the Product Owner.  Example of a Product Backlog Let’s look at an example to further understand it better: Build a mobile application for a local bank so that the users can access the bank on the go. Product Backlog would look like: S. No.RequirementPriority1Create a sign in page for the usersHigh2Create a logout pageHigh3Create a home page to land after successful sign in to the applicationHigh4Create a page for AccountsMedium5Create a page for Money TransferMedium6Create a page for LoansMedium7Create a page for User ProfileLow8Create a page for 'Contact Us' sectionLowThere can be multiple other requirements both front-end and back-end to get this mobile application delivered, but, here for understanding, we are just taking a few of them. Each item in the list will have a priority attached to it, this makes it easy for the development team to pick work once they are done with the one in hand. Product Backlog can also be termed as the master list of requirements. Sprint Backlog What is a Sprint Backlog? Sprint Backlog is a list derived from the product backlog or the master list. When teams start working in Scrum, they have sprints which are a timebox for delivery, it defines when a customer can expect the shipment and at what intervals. The period can range from a week to a months’ timeline. Here, in sprints, the team pulls the work from the product backlog as per the priority and their capacity and put it in a smaller bucket called ‘Sprint Backlog’. It is like delivering the big Product Backlog in chunks called “Sprint Backlog’. The Sprint Backlog can also be defined as a subset of superset ‘Product Backlog’. For a successful product delivery, both are essential, and hence the need to keep them healthy.  Who owns the Sprint Backlog? Sprint backlog is owned by the scrum team, and together, they create their sprint board which consists of the user stories, bugs (if any), and spikes. It is the development team who determines the Sprint Backlog. Here, the Scrum Master can facilitate the Sprint Planning meeting to help the team come up with the Sprint Backlog. The scrum team utilizes the sprint planning meeting to discuss on the sprint goal and the commitment they can make for the upcoming sprint. 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Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team. Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization. Four main stances of a Scrum Master The Scrum Master wears different hats to deliver results.  As a Facilitator The Scrum Master is a facilitator who makes sure the team is following the scrum events by serving and empowering the team in achieving their objectives. The person must be ‘neutral’ without taking sides in any conversation or meeting, at the same time, back everyone to do their best in intellectual and in practice. On the lines of facilitation, Lyssa Adkins provides a very apt statement:   A Scrum Master should facilitate by creating a "container" for the team to fill up with their ideas and innovations. The container, often a set of agenda questions or some other lightweight (and flexible) structure, gives the team just enough of a frame to stay on their purpose and promotes an environment for richer interaction, a place where fantastic ideas can be heard. The coach creates the container; the team creates the content. - Lyssa Adkins As a Coach The Scrum Master helps the team to understand the framework and accordingly coaches them for being self-organized and cross-functional. This person inspires an outlook of continuous improvement and Back the team in problem-solving and conflict resolution.   As a Servant Leader The term Servant Leader was originated by Robert K. Greenleaf, who described this term as “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. - Robert K. Greenleaf  This person ‘leads by example’ and puts the team/individuals' needs on priority. They make sure they are setting the foundation of trust, honesty, transparency, and openness. At the same time, they are the leader whom the team can look up to.   As a Change Agent The scrum Master brings about the change in terms of process, practices, and ways of working. They act as a catalyst in the overall transformation to bring about the degree of change expected from an organization. They help the team follow the process along with helping the stakeholders understand the empirical process. They help the entire team to adopt processes and enhance the delivery.  Scrum myth: The scrum master must run the daily scrum. In fact, the scrum master does not run any of the events, just ensures they happen and that they are successful. Top Qualities of a Successful Scrum Master  As with other roles, there is a secret sauce that goes into making the Scrum Master successful. While every individual serving as a Scrum Master may bring along their own personalities and strengths to reinforce the role, there are a couple of must-have qualities which every individual donning the Scrum Master role must hone. Let’s take a quick look at these traits that can add a pinch of charm to the Scrum Master role.  Powerful communicator The Scrum Master needs to be very specific and clear on the communication they have with the team and with stakeholders. They must be aware of the right channels and when to use them. They should know how to influence teams for better results.  Inspires ownership A good Scrum Master helps the team to understand Agile principles and why the team can gain better results through the adoption of ownership. They help the team to take ownership of their tasks, their task board, process, and even small failures.  Reads the room The Scrum Master should be able to understand and sense the temperature of the room. They should know when conflict is cropping up and how to deal with it smartly. This helps to build a culture of trust and transparency amongst the teams.  Impartial The Scrum Master can become a star leader if they are neutral towards any situation or the individual. They focus on the problem rather on the individual. They know every individual is good and has the right intentions, it is just the situations that alter the way the team behaves. This not only helps in creating a rapport but also gives one the satisfaction of doing the right thing.   Scrum Master Job Description and Responsibilities  With the increase in demand for Scrum Masters globally, it is important to understand the job description. Every industry is different and so are their ways of working. While each organization may have their own versions of the job description for a Scrum Master as per their need in a project, we will take a closer look into the typical job description that organizations use.   Below are some of the common points you will usually find in an open position for a Scrum Master:  Standups: Organize daily stand-up meetings, facilitate, and plan other project meetings as required including demos as suitable.  Sprint reviews: Empower the team to become self-organized to consistently deliver on their sprint commitments.  Adoption of best practices: Ensure development teams enthusiastically apply core agile principles of collaboration, prioritization, accountability, and visibility.  Impediment removal: Responsible to address impediments that prevent successful development and testing of approved requirements.  Visualization of issues: Support team to detect barriers that prevent it from delivering features to the customers.  Agile master: Strong knowledge of Scrum philosophy, rules, practices, and other frameworks.  Understanding of the software development process: Familiarity with software development processes and measures to understand team requirements.  Process ownership: Harmonize scrum team with agile; collaborate with Leadership to ensure delivery teams practice Agile framework and software engineering best practices.  Stakeholder management: Work in partnership with Stakeholders, Product Managers, Business Analysts, and development managers to plan releases and manage a healthy product backlog  Metrics/reports: Endorse and present appropriate metrics to sustain continuous improvement to get the best out of each team. Report progress, team status, and issues across the board.  Transparency: Communicate development status to sponsors, participants, management, and teams. Shares weekly or bi-weekly reports to ensure everyone understands the current state.   Quality: Safeguard observance of quality standards and project deliverables. Understand principles to drive quality ethics and help in devising tools and practices for best end results.   How can I prepare for this role?  Donning the role of a Scrum Master is akin to heeding to an internal calling; the role requires a person to be patient, a good communicator, a good listener, and most of all emotionally intelligent. If you want to become a Scrum Master, make sure you understand the in-depth meaning of servant leadership. It is not just following the process and events that make up a Scrum Master, it is a huge role which requires leadership while serving the team. If this is your calling, then here are some steps you can take –   Start learning about Scrum and how effectively you can use its values and principles with your team  Start reading articles and blogs on best practices with success stories.  Prepare for the certification required to start your journey.  Make sure you have a mentor who can shape you well and can help you hone your skills  Continuously work on your communication and influencing skills.  Is it essential for a Scrum Master to possess technical knowledge?  Of late, we have started noticing many job postings where organizations specifically demand a Scrum Master who is technically sound and knows the in and out of the technology the team is working on. Traditionally, however, Scrum Master is a non-technical role where the focus is on improving the work culture, adopting Scrum/Agile and its best practices, and helping the teams to grow, become self-organized and high performing. While it is a good-to-have criterion, technical knowledge is not mandatory. But then again, it really depends on the organization and their need.  Get started with the Scrum Master role  If you want to help teams work effectively together and want to change the world with scrum and agile, then the scrum master role is for you. It is a very people-centric role with a heavy emphasis on coaching, teaching, and facilitation. The Scrum Master role can be a game-changer for project delivery. They help the team understand their true potential which most of the times teams themselves are not aware of, with the help of coaching, mentoring, and using engaging team activities that help in understanding the overall process and delivery.  The Scrum Master role is critical and needs to be handled with care as the stakes are high. This role has a high degree of accountability and responsibility towards the team, process, and organization which not only requires an open mindset but also a concern for the wellbeing of co-workers.  Lived to its full potential, this role can build awesome high-performing teams that sustain hardships and efficiently draw learning out of every experience. Such teams are bound to succeed at every step, taking even failure as a step towards success. 
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Scrum Master Job Descriptions and Responsibilities...

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