To work effectively within Scrum you have to have a Scrum Master that makes sure these simple rules are relentlessly followed. Brutally so.
- Absolutely ready ready backlog. All cards have clear Problems To Be Solved (PTBS) and How We Measures Success (HWMS) metrics that are visible KPI’s that the team tracks on the teams dashboard each and every day. Yes, a card can refer to the epics overall PTBS and HWMS, there is no need to repeat them, you just can’t have a card that doesn’t have an agreed to PTBS and HWMS. You can easily identify make work projects or micro management tasks by having cards without clear PTBS or HWMS metrics that are tracked (on a dashboard). Scrum Masters must weed out and reject not ready work. Don’t allow it to even get on your board. Push it back to your Product Owner.
- Typically you have the work you are doing, the work you will do next and are currently validating, and if you are not so lucky cards sitting in blocked that need to be cleared. My rule of thumb is at most you can have 2 cards in play to the right of the Sprint Backlog for every team member. If you have more than that then you have a team that is context switching and chasing their tails. Get rid of all of that other crap.
- All work on the board has meaning. Work that has meaning has points. Cards on the board in the Sprint Backlog and to the right of it with no points have no place in Scrum. If they are placeholders for other work and you track them here, get them off, they are cluttering your shop floor and people will fall over them. You won’t be able to see the forest for the trees to manage your Scrum.
- All epics, and cards that stand alone of epic,s must be validated and have a learning component to that validation that defines what you will do next to improve upon the work you did. No validation means you have no build, measure, learn cycle, which means you are repeating the same old every day and not improving. Validation takes work, it needs to have points and it needs to be queued in the backlog. It is not an afterthought that you quickly discuss during retrospection. It is the most valuable work that you can do. And the results of it can’t be acknowledged and forgotten. The lessons learned must be queued as ready ready backlog for the next or current epics. If there are no cards on the board that meet this criteria then you are not learning and you are wandering.
- And the worst problem. You have work going on that isn’t on the Scrum Board which means you have unseen forces sucking the capacity out of the team. Kick the person off the team that has this role, make them a chicken, or, bring them back on as a pig and get visibility and meaning on that rogue work.
Do the above and velocity goes through the roof. All work is ready. It has a clear problem to solve and a meaningful measure of success that is some form of KPI that the team tracks, on their dashboard. WIP is no more than 2 times the number of team members. All work is visible, on the board, and it has points.