I've always been in favour of communication and working practices that speed up our everyday, so I explained my coordinator about Scrum 2 years ago or so. We finally applied this a year ago, with results that kept getting better and better after every sprint. My coord even got his Scrum Master certification.

Dailies were fast and meaningful. Goals were met (the majority, and new issues were swiftly negotiated with our Product Owner to take lower priority objectives out of the scrum). Communication was perfect, quick and easygoing with everyone in the team. We were in a dream.

After less than 6 months, something changed. The PO went back to micromanage the whole team, framing us too much. Dailies went from 6-8 minutes for 4 people to more than 20 in some cases. Sprints are now "overridden" without paying attention to times or priorities, everything "goes on top" of the stack. We don't modify the sprints anymore, and they're making us look like uncommited (as the goals are not achieved).

Plus, this week, our SM left for holidays for the whole week. The PO has crossed with me more than 40 emails in 5 days, that ended up containing about 20 hours of new unpredicted (and unpredictable) """top priority""" work. Plus, the SM had a task last week to redo all the new sprint post-its (yeah, he has always done the post-its on his own). He didn't and told us to do by ourselves. 2 of us did it, one hasn't, and we didn't do any daily for the whole week. After I suggested we should, the one with the outdated post-its simply said he was really busy.

I am not the SM, but since I was always the pusher, I feel responsible for this. The end is near and sadly crystal clear. I can account 2 more sprints, followed by going back to our previous system (estimating for 3-months long periods, and not achieving even a fifth of the expected).

This end needs to change. I don't know how, and where to start, but I know that when to start is 6 months ago. Any way to roll the problems back?

  • I cant edit such a small Change, but it is post-its not postits which made me feel really immature about jumping to the female part ;( – Raoul Mensink Jun 10 '16 at 13:19
  • @RaoulMensink heh, I didn't think of that! Ok, edit done – Korcholis Jun 10 '16 at 13:22
  • Did everyone (including the PO) agree that the first 6 months of sprint were a great success? – user45590 Jun 10 '16 at 13:28
  • @dan1111 Indeed, he invited all the company to a fancy meal precisely because of that great progress. And all the rest were pretty happy with the results we achieved. Now, we're not happy about it anymore, but "comfortable", which is never nice – Korcholis Jun 10 '16 at 13:32
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not a workplace issue, it's a project management issue. – DJClayworth Jun 10 '16 at 13:48

Talk to the scrum master and product owner about your concerns.

It sounds like the initiative for change needs to come from them. Since they both agreed that your initial application of scrum was a great success, hopefully they will see the need to get back to that.

Since you feel a great deal of ownership of this idea, it might make sense to propose that you could take on more responsibility in helping run things. Perhaps you could help with the bulletin board, at least, or take on some other role.

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  • Thanks dan1111, I'll really speak to them, but they look comfy with the situation. – Korcholis Jun 13 '16 at 9:03

First of all, you need to make sure you understand the problem from your boss's point of view, and that your team is achieving the same goals which management considers a priority.

If you're getting work done but it's not the the company's top priority then your sprints, while on paper successful, are actually failing to meet the company's needs.

If specs change and your boss needs this taken into account then you can't ignore that, no matter how damaging it is to your sprint.

However, you also have the power to point out that some strategies have worked better than others in getting projects out the door, and that - overall - sometimes it's better to let a priority wait until the current project is done rather than breaking the team's focus.

If you truly feel that the priorities being pushed on your team are simply disruptive and don't help the business because you're getting less done then compile a report showing that and plead the (business) case to your boss.

Ask that the team's priorities only be revised at the end of each sprint, and not in the middle of one. But make a case of how much more productive (time = $$$) your team is when allowed to function properly.

Always point out how much money the business stands to save. It's the only thing that really gets through to some managers.

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  • Thanks, Andrei, although as I mention, it's not only the PO going back to his old habits, but also us losing the path of a good Scrum method. – Korcholis Jun 10 '16 at 13:27
  • @Korcholis, in a similar situation and Andrei is right. A couple of things, you need to manage the stakeholder/PO expectations better, you also need to make sure your sprints are properly organised so that you deliver his high priority work first and foremost. It sounds like you are delivering work, but it is not what he wants at this point in time.Finally, do 4 day sprints, and then switch to kanban for the final day so that you don't step on his toes, and you are able to adapt to ad-hoc changing requirements during the week. – bobo2000 Jun 13 '16 at 16:18
  • Even saving money or making them more successful will not always get through. People have a certain comfort zone with what they do and when asked to work outside of their comfort zone for too long they will revolt and go back to what they do feel comfortable with, even if it's worse. From long experience, I can tell you that it's important to take this into account when introducing agile methods. – cjs Mar 10 '18 at 3:41

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