Everything in software development has good and bad patterns.  We have looked at why the agile approach is valuable.  However, we need to review agile anti-patterns to avoid problems that can erase any benefits.  There are many ways we can misuse this process.  Here are some development team mistakes we can avoid

No WIP Limit

There is a pride people have around multi-tasking.  However, it is not the most efficient way to get things done.  Even worse, we can end up having too many tasks in flight when a sprint ends.  This causes a broad range of challenges and can block a team from critical sprint tasks.  We should take a task, complete it, and then move on to another.  Nevertheless, we can sometimes have more than one item in progress to reduce dead-time in our day.

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Cherry Picking

We all have things we prefer to do.  This tendency can cause problems in the Agile environment.  The team members need to focus on getting work done to help the sprint complete successfully.  Cherry-picking is one of the agile anti-patterns that can arise from team members abusing the freedom this process gives them in tasks.  Sometimes we have to pick the big, complex, or not-fun tasks to better the team.

Out Of Date Work Board

Communication is key.  An out of date board is one of the most dangerous agile anti-patterns.  It can cause us to duplicate effort or sit in a holding pattern when we could be productive.  This responsibility is not on the scrum master alone.  The team members should report their progress by keeping the board synchronized with the latest progress.

Side Gigs

Everything in a sprint should be tracked in a ticket.  That allows us to properly measure work, time, and, ultimately, our velocity.  There are always temptations to help out a co-worker (or CEO) with a side task or project.  Nevertheless, we need to track that effort.  This requirement is essential in our overall success.  Thus, do not feel bad about forcing side work requesters into the sprint backlog and process.

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Challenge of The Week: Which of these do you see in your team?  How will you fix it?

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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