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5 Simple Reasons why Scrum Fails

Of the many reasons that scrum fails, the most glaring five reasons that ultimately cause the complete failure of a project or product delivery are:

  1. Ignorance: is bliss only when we are kids. Corporate life.. not so much. If the management is ignorant of what it means to undertake something like a scrum transformation, (and, it mostly is!) the effort and the money spent in the transformation is useless. It takes a mind set change and a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down approach to make scrum work.
  2. Not training the partners: When we develop products, we work with a lot of partners with in the organization. HR, Finance, Marketing and Sales, Purchasing and Legal being some of them. Now when I say this, most of the people I know think I am out of my mind. If we do not train and educate our internal partners in the new initiative and what is expected of them when it happens, they remain clueless and indifferent. For scrum to work, there has to be an organizational change and the HR especially needs to know what Scrum is all about. Otherwise you say the word “scrum” in front of people from support functions, the only thought that comes to their mind is “Hmm…That’s a funny noise”. 
  3. Insecurity: Scrum transformation requires organizational change. That means a lot of people lose their titles and feel powerless. The thought of their cheese being moved causes immense stress and they do everything in their power to get back the cheese to its original location. The first step in scrum transformation is to ensure that people feel safe and are given an opportunity to learn about the different roles in scrum and choose something that they would like to do.
  4. Wrong people for the wrong job: Every role in scrum mandates some specific soft-skills. Most of the time, this part gets ignored and the chaos begins. Everyone needs to understand the reason behind why these soft-skills are important. For example a scrum master should be able to push back on mid-sprint changes and should be resourceful enough to help solve some road blocks. If these skills are absent, the transformation will never be successful.
  5. Right tools for the wrong reasons: Scrum has some very good tools that help to measure the value delivered in the current sprint and predict the value of the next sprint. And all too often these tools are used to micro-manage and differentiate individual performances. No way this leads to a successful transformation.


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