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What Ever Happened to Common Sense in Scrum?

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What Ever Happened to Common Sense in Scrum?

In almost every Scrum ceremony, there is a chance that the Scrum Master can close his eyes and follow the assumed rule book because 'that's just the way it's done.'

· Agile Zone ·
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Blind scrum master

You wouldn't drive like this, so why would try to lead your Scrum team like this? #bringcommonsensebacktoScrum

Agile Scrum is misunderstood by a large segment of practitioners. Scrum deliberately didn't spell out most of the actions required and that frankly has created quite a pandemonium.

This unclarity of action has created ‘theorists,' who run around with stopwatch in hand, staunchly advocating for so-called ‘assumed’ rules.

In my view, though, Scrum needs to be approached with common sense. A high discipline from the team is unquestionably a mandate. But having said that, exceptions and irregularities are expected when you deal with human beings.

Here are some examples of the disciplinary issues every Scrum Master may encounter:


Daily standup meetings are expected to finish in 15 to 20 minutes. Any time spent beyond this is probably overkill, hence the team members are expected to be crisp and to the point.

Team members should only communicate the information the team needs to know:

  1. How they are progressing towards the sprint goal;

  2. What impediments need to be addressed as a team to achieve this goal.

But the Scrum Master need not conduct the meeting with a stopwatch. They should be mindful about the meeting time to protect everyone's time.

If time dragging is quite an affair, then the Scrum Master needs to figure out ‘WHY’ this is happening rather than simply hard stopping after the allowed amount of time.

But in most reasonable circumstances, extending a meeting for a few more minutes for a meaningful conclusion is absolutely accepted.

False retrospective

To visualize the theorists' retrospection meeting, only a few stakeholders would attend the meeting. They may chit-chat about all the good things that happened and happily ignore the bad. Or they may engage in a full-on blame game on what went wrong and demoralize the team.

But a good scrum master should know that retrospection is not just limited to the sprint that just got over; it’s a retrospection of how they are doing as a team from the beginning towards the project goal.

The entire team should be discussing the lessons learned in the past, how they are applying those lessons to subsequent sprints, and what else they need to do better.

As far as the theorists are concerned, conducting the retrospective meeting is just one of many mandatory activities. They expect the team to gather and produce a retrospection document, nothing more and nothing less.

More focus on task completion than adding value

A team that focuses on just completing the tasks may not have the thinking time to add value. At the same time, the team should not get lost in ‘gold plating’ either. The Scrum Master needs to gauge the situation and act here.

The theorist, on the other hand, only cares about announcing an on-time sprint completion.


In almost every Scrum ceremony, there is a chance that the Scrum Master can close his eyes and follow the assumed rule book because "that's just the way it's done." This approach would definitely help you get your metrics right, but the customers won't spare you. 

Further reading

You're Doing It Wrong: Retrospectives

Zombie Scrum: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

scrum ,scrum master ,agile ,common sense ,purists ,theorists

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