Top 6 Scrum Anti Patterns

by StarAgile

October 29, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


Scrum Anti Patterns

The development team is the team that works on the sprint backlog and delivers the part of the product that customers expected at the end of every sprint. The development team is essential to scrum’s built-in checks and balances as the development teams control the sprint backlog and are noticing every day the definition of done. There are various anti patterns such as the Scrum Master as a servant leader anti-pattern that is discussed in the Scrum Certification course at StarAgile. A few characteristics of the development team for the success are as follows,

  • They are the only team that knows how to convert the product backlog into releasable increments of functionality.
  • They often work across functions to do the increments of product functionality
  • There are no titles for the development team in the scrum manifesto
  • Scrum does not provide any sub-teams in the development team despite different domains such as development, testing, operations, architecture, and business analysis
  • The accountability lies with the development team as a whole despite the group of members working with various skills and area of focus in the development team

However, there is confusion around how the development team and the product owner and scrum master roles are assigned. Let us discuss the development team anti patterns by scrum event where the team needs support from the scrum master. The diagram below pictorially shows the scrum anti patterns,


1) Anti patterns of the development team at the product backlog level

a. No time for improvement - The development team must spend 10% of the time for the improvement of the product backlog but usually this is not done which results in low quality of the backlog.

b. Too much sophistication - This result in granular level backlogs which is not needed

c. Meek team - This is nothing but the development team agreeing for all the demands of the product owner instead of asking the questions why to do this?

2) Anti patterns of the development team - Sprint planning

a) Facility - The development team oversize the needs and takes on too many tasks. The solution is that it needs to factor in all the issues such as leave, vacation, new team members, corporate overhead, etc.

b) Technical capacity - The development team does not understand very well the technical capacity needed to develop the software. The solution is that 20% of the resources are deployed for fixing the bugs and errors. This is not factored in by the product owner but the development team have to commit for this work and responsibilities

c) No relaxed time - The development team does not demand the 20% relax period during the work from the product owner. The result is that the team is over-utilized and the performance decrease over time. This way the team members have less sharing and collaboration and do not address the urgent work first as a priority. Here the support is needed from the scrum master

d) Planning very detailed - The planning is done too granular and it results in a waste of time. Several factors contribute to this, they are as follows, too much estimating, too little planning, team leads have to do a lot of work instead of less planning by the development team, etc

3) Sprint Anti patterns

a) No WIP-limits - There are no WIP limits set that make the WIP or the spring backlog bulge in sizes and numbers. The WIP limits are the limit set to WIP items that consider the maximum number of tasks that the team can handle in a given time.

b) The chart out of date - The team does not update the tickets on the board resulting in a lack of focus, less motivation, and provides erroneous data on the progress of the projects.

c) Side-Jobs - The development team apart from their development work is entrusted with bug fixes, error fixes, patching, report writing, and so on

4) Daily scrum Anti patterns

a) No habit set -The daily scrum does not happen in the same way and the same place. The solution is to set some routine in the daily scrum

b) Status report - The development team members must report the work status to the product owner and the scrum master.

c) Ticket numbers only - There is a high possibility to work on the tickets only work.

d) Problem-solving - Discussions are done for the problems in the daily scrum meeting instead of working on those later

e) Direction lost - The question asked in every daily scrum is to report are we on track still in the project.

f) Work-item age not used - There are issues in the items that nobody is supporting the development team on this, and the age of the item is reminded again and again

g) Not able to comprehend - Some of the team members are not having a clear picture of what they are working on.

h) Extreme reaction - The team members are bent on criticizing others in the daily scrum instead of supporting and taking their reaction outside of the daily scrum

5) Sprint Review: Development team anti patterns

a) PowerPoint presentations - It gets boring with PowerPoint presentations instead of that have a practical discussion of the subject from the stakeholders.

b) Not all are participating - In the meeting it so happens that the same faces appear and not all are participating in the meeting

c) Wrong update - The development team shows the data of done when in practice it is not over

d) No sprint review - The sprint review must take place irrespective of whether the results are achieved or not.

Understand the purpose of the sprint review and move forward. 

6) Anti patterns of the development team: Sprint demonstration

a) No demonstration meeting - The development team does not do the demonstration meeting believing that there is nothing to improve upon

b) Cancels demonstration meeting - The team cancels the demo because it believes more time is needed to achieve the sprint goals

c) Complaints - The team uses the demo to complain about what is not there and what is not achieved than focusing on the improvement.

d) Product owner not called - The team forgets deliberately to call the product owner for the meeting.

Learn about the best qualities of the scrum team and for more details enroll in our certified scrum master online course.

Top 5 Scrum Master anti patterns list

The list is exhaustive but only the top 5 scrum anti patterns are covered and they are as follows,

1. Scrum master dictates the work with command and control style

2. Scrum Master doing the planning also instead of just facilitation the work

3. Scrum Master role is given to someone who does not believe in the scrum and agile principles and values

4. Role of the manager being played by the scrum master which is not desired

5. The scrum master does the micro-management

For career growth as a scrum master register for the scrum certification training course at StarAgile

Top 3 Scrum anti patterns in agile

Again the list can go on but for brevity purpose, we have listed only the top 3 agile anti patterns below,

1. Lack of communication

2. Lack of long term strategy

3. Definition of Done and The Quality not being considered seriously

Last words - Do you want to identify which of these are scrum anti patterns among a list given?

There is an exhaustive list of all the anti patterns in the scrum in reference ebook - Scrum anti patterns guide. Another alternative is to do the scrum master certification online at StarAgile institute for greater career and professional growth. What are you waiting for? Register today for the CSM certification online at StarAgile.