TL; DR: Scrum Team Failure

This post on Scrum team failure addresses three categories from the Scrum anti-patterns taxonomy that are closely aligned: Planning and process breakdown, conflict avoidance and miscommunication, and inattention to quality and commitment, often resulting in a Scrum team performing significantly below its potential.

Learn how these Scrum anti-patterns categories manifest themselves and how they affect value creation for customers and the organization’s long-term sustainability.

This is the third of three articles analyzing the 183 anti-patterns from the upcoming Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide book. The other two articles, see below, address adhering to legacy systems, processes, practices, and communication and collaboration issues.

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Scrum Team Failure in Detail 

Let us delve into the three aspects of Scrum team failure: Planning and process breakdown, conflict avoidance and miscommunication, and inattention to quality and commitment:

Planning and Process Breakdown at Scrum Level

This category of Scrum Team failure patterns identifies setbacks and breakdowns in planning, process, collaboration, and alignment within the Scrum framework. Such failures may include, for example:

Disregarding essential Scrum practices.
Inadequately investing in planning and training.
Failing to communicate and stakeholder management.
Insufficient Product Backlog management.

These issues can lead to chaotic, inefficient work, erode trust, hinder alignment, and undermine the Scrum team’s ability to deliver value and uphold the principles of Scrum.


Examples of the effects of this anti-pattern category include:

Excessive control by the Scrum Master over the team’s processes.
Overreach by the Scrum Master or Product Owner into direct task control.
Product Owner’s control over the ‘What’ and ‘How’ instead of focusing on the ‘Why.’
Accepting unrefined Product Backlog items into the Sprint.
Allowing disruptions during a Sprint.
Mishandling Sprint cancellations.
Developers disregard practices like aligning with Sprint Goals or adherence to the Definition of Done.
Temporary abandonment of Scrum in critical situations.
Varying Sprint lengths, neglecting to plan for new team members, or resorting to a “hardening” Sprint.
Inconsistency in Sprint lengths or other planning aspects, signaling reluctance to implement Scrum fully.
Accepting spillovers without discussion.
Postponing Retrospectives, ignoring action items.
A lack of attention to technical debt.
Stakeholder inclusion: Failure in alignment, empathy, trust, robust collaboration mechanisms, and inclusive stakeholder engagement.
Pressure from stakeholders to release undone work or barriers in understanding strategic direction.
Avoiding Retrospectives or believing there’s no room for improvement, undermining continuous learning and adaptation.
Scrum Masters take on tasks outside their responsibility, such as organizing meetings or buying office supplies, stifling the team’s growth.
Rushed Product Backlog creation leads to chaotic planning and undermines Scrum principles.
Untimely introducing tasks during the Sprint limits team independence and adherence to Scrum principles.

Conflict Avoidance and Miscommunication at Scrum Team Level

The “Conflict Avoidance and Miscommunication” category deals with Scrum Team failure in communication and the evasion of conflict within Scrum teams. These anti-patterns include excluding collaboration, prioritizing individual achievements, delaying communication, lack of transparency, and misunderstanding within the team. Such behaviors lead to friction and undermine trust-building, alignment with Agile principles, and continuous improvement. Additionally, they reflect systemic failures, such as the lack of strategic alignment and adherence to core Agile principles, hindering efficiency and collaboration within the Scrum team.


Examples of the effects of this anti-pattern category include:

Ignoring struggling team members.
Failing to create an environment for open conflict resolution.
Exclusion of collaboration, focusing on individual accomplishments, and delayed communication.
Misusing the Daily Scrum, leading to unresolved issues and hindering transparency.
Lack of sharing organizational vision and strategy, creating misunderstandings within the team.
A dogmatic approach to planning or a lack of shared understanding creates barriers to efficient working.
Non-inclusive behaviors, for example, a lack of diversity among Sprint Reviews attendees, disengagement, and blame games.
Systemic failures, such as ignoring core Scrum principles, a lack of focus on goals, abandoning Agile for traditional practices, and mismanagement of planning and goal setting.

Inattention to Quality and Commitment

The “Inattention to Quality and Commitment” category of Scrum Team Failure patterns focuses on Developers’ neglect of quality, professionalism, and adherence to Scrum principles. It stresses the importance of not compromising quality standards and maintaining a continuous commitment to excellence. Disregarding quality can lead to suboptimal products, misalignment with customer expectations, and undermining the core values of Agile. The category calls for a renewed focus on standards, learning, adaptation, and avoiding shortcuts that may expedite delivery but risk long-term quality and sustainability.


Examples of the effects of this anti-pattern category include:

Disregarding quality standards as defined by the Definition of Done. 
Attending meetings unprepared, reflecting a lack of commitment.
Assuming knowledge of customer needs without interaction, leading to unsuited products.
Lack of clear standards for “Sprint-ready” items.
Lack of attention to continuous improvement.
Lack of documentation and choosing UNSMART actions, ignoring quality controls.
Releasing an Increment that doesn’t meet the Definition of Done.
Arbitrary deviations from Sprint Goals.
Any compromise on quality standards, commitments, and the ethos of delivering optimal value.

Conclusion: Scrum Team Failure 

The discussed Scrum team failure patterns reveal potential pitfalls that will undermine Scrum’s effectiveness. Breakdowns in planning and collaboration can erode trust and veer teams away from core Scrum principles. Conflict avoidance and miscommunication further exacerbate misalignments, pointing to systemic failures in adhering to Agile principles. Finally, compromising quality and commitment jeopardizes the alignment on creating value for customers and fundamental Agile values. In short, the Scrum teams of your organization will perform significantly below their potential, leading to an undesirable outcome.

Therefore, recognizing and actively countering these Scrum team failure patterns is crucial for Scrum’s successful application in any organization.

Scrum Team Failure — Related Articles

The Peril of Adhering to Legacy Systems, Processes, and Practices — Scrum Anti-Patterns Taxonomy (1)

Lost in Communication and Collaboration — Scrum Anti-Patterns Taxonomy (2)

Scrum Anti-Patterns Taxonomy — The Big Picture of Why Scrum Fails?

All posts on Scrum Anti-Patterns

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The article Scrum Team Failure — Scrum Anti-Patterns Taxonomy (3) was first published on

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