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4 Dysfunctional Behaviors and Scrum Framework

In "4 Behaviors That Can Save or Destroy a Project" blog post, I described four behavior which they can impact a project delivery time, quality and cost. These behaviors are: Student Syndrome, No Early Work Transfers, Parkinson's Law, Polychronicity. However, project management frameworks such as Scrum provides simple and effective tools and techniques to deal with these type of behaviors. Such tools and techniques are: Time-boxing, Volunteerism, Continues Self-Inspection, Transparency, Continues ordering (prioritization) and Team Estimation.

Everything in Scrum framework is time-boxed. Every meeting is time-boxed, every sprint or iteration is time-boxed. There is no deadline, but there are many time-boxes! Teams using time-boxing are way more productive than teams using deadlines. There is a shift in mindset from "We need to work hard to meet our deadline" to "How much we can get done in the given time". This is very basic but very powerful change in mind set.
At the start of planning in Scrum, team tries to evaluate their productivity by looking into their past performance and the environment they work in and skill sets they have (Velocity), and then they decide how much they can accomplish in a time-boxed period, they also decide what is the duration of that time-boxed.

Teams, who use time-boxed, look at things with more accountability and with a scenes of ownership. They decide what they can get done within a specific period of time and then they commit to it. Teams who have deadlines are always disagree with deadlines as they do not see the ownership and self-commitment.


Daily Stand up meetings in Scrum is a way of self-inspection. It allows every team member to share his/her accomplishments, plans and obstacles on daily bases with other team members (and sometimes with product owner and customer) in full transparency. If a task is close to be completed then others will know and will act (avoiding No-Early-Work-Transfer). If one shares his/her plan and accomplishments on daily bases with others who do the same thing with him/her, then such individual will not be trapped in Student Syndrome. Imagine a class of students who must share their exam preparation works and questions/obstacles with other classmates and teacher on daily bases until the exam day, I guaranteeing you that everybody will get an average of B if not A+!


Team shares their progress to whoever is interested, they usually put them on a wall (virtually or physically). They review it on daily bases and make adjustment if necessary. Such transparency give ownership and responsibility to team members and as result high motivation.

When you combine such simple techniques of Time-boxing, Volunteerism, Continues Self-Inspection, Transparency, Continues ordering (prioritization) and Team Estimation that Scrum provides then you have a team that never falls in to the trap of the four dysfunctional behavior. Although it may take some time for the team/organization to reach to such maturity level. The Good news is that, tools are there and path is clear!



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