Shock Therapy for Scrum

When properly implemented, the Scrum framework enforces simple constraints that lead a team to self-organize into a state that achieves 5 to 10 times performance improvement versus traditional approaches. However, the majority of Scrum teams is unable achieve this objective.

Teams do not know how to sequence work to deliver working software at the end of a sprint. They do not know how to work with a Product Owner to get the backlog in a ready state before bringing it into a sprint and do not know how to self-organize into a hyper-productive state during a sprint. A pattern is emerging in organizations to bootstrap high performing Scrum teams. Rigorous implementation of Scrum by an experienced coach creates a total immersion experience akin to Shock Therapy. Teams are trained on exactly how to implement Scrum with no deviations for several sprints. These teams consistently achieve better than 240% improvement in velocity within a few weeks. They are then able to self-organize on their own to continue to improve performance. For many developers and managers, the experience is a wake up call to agile awareness.

Unfortunately, management tends to disrupt hyperproductive teams by disabling key constraints in the Scrum framework. Team velocity then falls back into mediocrity. Velocity data was provided in this article by five hyper-productive teams in two companies. In all but one case, management “killed the golden goose.”

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