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Bob Galen - Stuff Bad Scrum Coaches Say


Summary: Scrum coaches say many things - both good and bad. It's a tough balancing act to be effective. This might help your coaching & teams.

Learning Objectives: This is a fun way to get every attendee to contribute some silly – odd – terrible – dysfunctional – funny – damaging – etc. things they’ve heard from themselves and other “agile coaches” during the course of their work. So, we’ll be collecting anti-patterns.

But more importantly, and this happened in Raleigh as well, we’ll be looking to reframe the “sayings” in more constructive ways. In this way, we’ll be emerging appropriate coaching questions & approaches for every day agile and scrum team coaching.


  • Content rating (0-no new ideas, 5 - a new ideas/approach, 9-new ideas): 6
  • Style rating (0-average presentstion, 5 - my level, 9-I learned something about presenting): 5

Action / Learning

  • Run at home



Worst things they could say Then go through them

What were they trying to say How could they have said it better

Shit-o-meter Burn down

Connect on Twitter

“Your paid to code, not to think” There's a time to work, and a time to think, maybe over analyzing

“Who is our scrum master again” On an agile team it can be anyone's role Who would like to step up and experience this

“Where did you learn scrum from - the back of the Cheerios box” Scrum is simple but not easy All experiences are valuable but we need to converge ..

“Optional retrospectives next”

“If you can't do the process right you shouldn't do it” There might be useful patterns It's about continuous improvement This is all about value

“Sme are better at estimation” Let's take advantage of this persons experience in our estimation

“Your not being agile” Great way step outside the box Let me tell you what you are giving up …

“No you're doing it wrong” Let us show us how we do it How's that working for you (or ever worked for you) I am concerned that this will lead to .. Any other way we could do this

“What is it you think you are doing, because this isn't scrum”

If you keep repeating things it can become one of these Eg 5 whys

“How come you retrospectives only impacting leadership” How is that make it safer What impact does this have on your team Is there something from the last retrospective that we can help

“We tried agile practice x and perhaps we should try something less agile” What hasn't been working, what is our experience

“The vp might hear bad news” Bad news doesn't get better with age Let's set up a meeting with vp How they can get engaged Is this the best forum

“Why do you keep holding the team back” Is there anything you need How do you approach this Here are a list of impediments - can you help with any of these What would the impact of that would be

“You should …” Why don't you try this

Amplify vulnerability as a coach

“Fibonacci is to hard. Let's use 1 to 1 estimation” How are we using our estimates How can we get better at estimating

“We're agile aren't we so we can do anything …”

“That story is not X point” What would estimate it at What do you know what I don't know Let's all estimate it How does the size of this compare to that

“You must wear Hawaiian shirts on Fridays”

“What do you think” I think you are stronger than you think What have you tried There's a better version of you down the river

Sometimes a cry for help is a cry for help Sometimes through them a line

“We're agile we don't have to plan / document” How can we help you understand Is this the best thing we could do for the customer How can we do this better

“I don't have 10 years to wait to get the experience” What can I do to get up to speed Pairing

“A point is 8 hours, right?”

“Don't bother having a conversation, just write a process for it”

“Our experience says 6 week sprints are best, it's not up for discussion” How can we get feedback faster Is customer ok with delivery every 6 weeks What is the business constraint that is driving this 3 weeks sprints This is an outlier What is the significance of 6 sprints

“We're doing scrum - we just meet daily” What are we trying to avoid How frequently are you meeting

“No really, it's about the points”

“My standup are an hour so we sit” Why are they an hour What is the participation like Feels like we are doing more than coordinating How big is the team What are the conversations about

“Teams must finish 499 pts per sprints to be high performing” Where is this point coming from How much value have you delivered

“What will senior management say when we tell them there is no end date” Tell senior management they can ship whenever they want We've moved beyond projects - flow etc. advanced scrum card How are we managing stakeholders expectations

“All that matters is your team velocity” Exaggerated discussion

“Your team is going to slower” What progress are you expecting Are you starting and not finishing

“But that will make our chart look bad” Stuff behind the chart The why behind it - emergent understanding So what? What can we do to improve the situation. How impact the project The burndown is merely an indicator

“You guys need to stop goofing around and get your shit done in the sprint” Might be ok based on context - tough love I don't think team has reached their full potential

“This philosophy sucks!” How confident are you that you are going to meet you commitments What impediments do you see

Have frivolous / funny etc then have serious conversation

“Your result was 4 times what you estimated, and I not happy” How can we increase reliability of estimates What did we not know

“Scrum guide says ”

“I don't care if you met your user story your shit doesn't work” Did the product owner accept Definition of done Customer value

“The answer is with in you”

“Challenge the status quo except mine”

“The team is self manning so we don't need metrics” How do we know we are getting better

“Scrum discourages women”

“Everybody knows that”

“The management team doesn't know jack about agile, so they can F off” It seems like our leaders … Do we have leadership buyin

“We need to get this done so you can do it in sprint or I can pull you off the team” What about the commitment Focus

“I'm older than you so I don't have to ” We can use your experience

“We need to do a documentation sprint” Is this a hardening / sprint 0

“We need to finish on time so you are all working this weekend”

“Maybe agile is not for you” Maybe true

“The other teams velocity is higher than yours”

“We don't like the product owner so pick someone else” Have they heard the feedback

“Just trust me”

“Can't we just pull in one more story”

/home/hpsamios/ · Last modified: 2020/06/02 14:21 by