The following list is a tongue-in-cheek collection of common mistakes in applying Scrum. They all influence product success negatively. Combined they are a recipe for certain failure.
- Apply the product owner role pragmatically: Spilt the role across several people or work with a product owner committee.
- Shoot for the maximum marketable product – a product that pleases everyone and has a myriad of features.
- Have a can-do attitude, say yes to every requirement, and put it into the product backlog. You don’t want to disappoint stakeholders and endanger the product success.
- Capture and detail all the requirements in the product backlog before the first sprint. This reduces uncertainty and risk, and it enables accurate planning and efficient execution.
- Don’t bother with prioritisation. All your requirements are certainly must-have’s.
- Don’t ask your customers for feedback on early product increments. You know what’s best for them!
- Leverage a big-bang release to surprise your competitors, impress your customers, and achieve complete market domination over night.
- When push comes to shove, add more features and cut quality. Customers love complex products. Don’t worry about technical debt. View it as an opportunity to create a new product in the near future.
- Tell the ScrumMaster to act as a proper project manager. Work the team hard. Sustainable pace is for wimps.
To avoid the mistakes above and to learn how to create great products with Scrum, refer to my book Agile Product Management with Scrum, or book yourself on one of my product owner trainings.
It’s not uncommon for me to visit a new client and to discover that the scrum teams change frequently, sometimes after every single sprint. Changing the team composition too frequently is undesirable for the individuals and the organization. To flourish, teams need stability. With markets, requirements and technologies frequently changing in an agile world, a stable scrum team provides security and continuity.
To create stable scrum teams, follow these recommendations:
First, carefully consider who should be on the Scrum team. Find the right individuals to play the product owner, ScrumMaster and team role in order to develop a great product. Having the right individuals on board is most likely the biggest success factor for any development effort.
Second, minimize any changes to the Scrum team within and across releases. It takes some time for a group of individuals to become a true team – a tightly knit unit with members that trust and support each other and that work together well. Changing the team composition makes this teambuilding process start all over again and, as a result, productivity and self-organization suffer. Avoid loosing team members while a release is being developed. A good time for people to leave and new members to join is after the release of a new product version. But ensure that the majority of the team members continue to work on the product to avoid loss of information, defects and delays.
Last but not least, establish a long-term partnership between a Scrum team and its product; every product should be developed by one or more dedicated teams. This not only facilitates ownership and learning, but it simplifies the allocation of people and resources.
The product owner should always be a permanent member of the Scrum team. This allows the individual to manage the entire product lifecycle, from gestation to its discontinuation. It also encourages balancing short-term wins with long-term success.
Find out more about employing stable teams by reading my book Agile Product Management with Scrum or by attending my product owner course.