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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 12-Oct-2018
Posted by: Tanja ESCHBERGER

5 errors to avoid when introducing Scrum


Scrum is a proven agile method for implementing complex innovation projects. The advantages of agile innovation management with Scrum lie primarily in the iterative, step-by-step approach, which is ideal for projects with a high degree of innovation, uncertainties and risks. We will show you five common mistakes to avoid when introducing Scrum.

1. Wrong expectations

Scrum as a method for agile innovation management is easy to understand and learn. This encourages to think that the transformation to Scrum and an agile approach would be easy. The reason for this misjudgement is often exaggerated expectations, which differ from the actual agile values and principles.

An essential factor for the successful use of Scrum, however, is the application of agile principles and Scrum values, which, combined with the willingness to constantly change and learn, form the foundation for a successful use of Scrum. Taking the agile path means accepting change and, above all, integrating Scrum into the existing organizational structure and culture.

This means that companies are not only faced with the challenge of applying Scrum correctly, but also adapting the company accordingly - and this at all levels, i. e. Scrum values and agile principles must also be promoted by the management level. The introduction of Scrum by individual development teams will fail sooner or later if the management does not live agile principles or the support of the management is not given. If management doesn't allow for change in the company, Scrum will quickly find the organization's glass ceiling.

Manual Scrum at a glance

Changing to Scrum involves structural, personnel and organizational challenges that require management and teams to achieve agility. This development takes its time - Scrum will be disappointed if expectations are wrong and the resulting ignorance of agile values or lack of support from management is ignored.


2. The product owner is not available

The Product Owner has a demanding and central role in the Scrum framework. He knows the customer and the requirements of the product very well, manages and prioritizes the requirements in the product backlog and controls the development. The product owner should therefore be available at all times and have sufficient time for daily scrum, preparation of sprint meetings and answering questions. It must not be overloaded by other tasks and should be flexible in terms of time (full-time).

In order to ensure the continuation of the project if the product owner is not reachable due to holidays, illness or other reasons, the product owner should work towards always having some user stories in the product backlog sprint-ready in petto. If the product owner fails, the development team can then perform several sprints with the prepared user stories.

In addition, a representative should be appointed who can also take over items and make decisions if necessary. For example, this could be a lead developer with the necessary skills and a good standing in the team. In larger companies with several product owners, another product owner can also step in. The prerequisite for this, however, is that it is not fully utilized and still has time for another project.


3. Scrum Master is project manager

The role of the Scrum Master has a great influence on the success of the Scrum process, which is often underestimated. In many cases, the role is filled with unsuitable people or the required skills are lacking.

One of the most common mistakes is to select a team or project leader as Scrum Master. Because a Scrum Master should not pursue its own strategic interests, but only work for the further development of the team. It must be neutral and confidential. A Scrum Master is primarily a supporter of the team. He is responsible for the implementation and removal of obstacles, but is not responsible for the content. While the product owner cares about what is implemented, the role of the Scrum Master is about how something is implemented.

On the other hand, the team will continue to see him as the boss and will pass on all responsibility to the Scrum Master from his usual behaviour. In addition, fears or weaknesses are often not addressed because this could be taken into account in employee evaluation. This blocks communication and the possibility of improvement. When casting the role of the Scrum Master, it is therefore essential to ensure that there is no interference due to hierarchical structures.


4. Protracted Daily Scrum Meetings

The Daily Scrum Meeting serves the team to coordinate and exchange information. It takes place every working day and should not exceed 15 minutes. During this short time questions are answered and problems are mentioned.

To adhere to this time box, precise moderation is required. This means that there should be no room for analyzing and justifying problems in the Daily Scrum. It is the task of the moderation to record the mentioned problems in some form (list, task board, cards, etc.), but solutions should be discussed in separate meetings.

For example, those who are needed for problem solving could stay after the Daily Scrum and take care of it. In some cases, the formation of small groups is also useful if there are several issues that need to be addressed.


5. Missing retrospective

Retrospectives are team meetings that aim to look critically at the results at regular intervals and to learn from the past. It analyses why things have gone well or badly in order to develop joint measures for improvement. The regular implementation of retrospectives is therefore one of the most important components of agile procedures.

It is only through the retrospective that the team has the chance to continuously improve its own procedures and processes. A team that only carries out retrospectives very irregularly or moderates poorly will benefit little from the positive effects of Scrum because it is not able to reflect on its own behaviour and adapt it accordingly.


Conclusion: 5 errors to avoid when introducing scrum

There are numerous misunderstandings and assumptions regarding the use of Scrum. Although the description of the rules, values, roles, events and artifacts in the Scrum-Guide contains only 13 pages, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in their definition of Scrum believe that it is light-weight, easy to understand and difficult to master.

In order to really benefit from the advantages of agility and scrum and to avoid mistakes, the basic rules of agile management as well as the agile principles and values of scrum must be lived and applied. Scrum is therefore not to be understood as a project management tool, but as an agile method whose application requires a comprehensive adaptation of the corporate culture and organization.

Agile Innovation Management


Born in Lower Austria. At LEAD Innovation she works as Head of Innovation and focuses on agile innovation management via SCRUM.

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