Using Agile for Evil…part two

Continuing the saga on Using Agile for Evil. If you missed part one we covered Taskmaster and People Under Process, take a few minutes to catch up before continuing.

You Underestimate Me

It is widely known that human beings are really bad at estimating things. This creates another opportunity for you to spread confusion and misery. Each of your many tasks needs an estimate. Normally the person doing that work would provide one, as they know what’s involved—but of course as a villainous Scrum Master, you write those estimates instead.

There are down sides to this, of course. First, if your tasks and estimates are wrong, you’ll look bad. Your burn down charts won’t be nice glide lines like they’re supposed to be. One tempting option is to give your team very generic tasks that turn their burndowns into more of a timecard: eight hours of work done each day, no matter what. This gives you a perfect burn down every week and encourages dishonesty in the team, which helps to corrode relationships, but it’s also an easy way to get caught.

Alternatively, you could just track tasks for 4-5 hours per day, per person, instead of 8, and go back to only writing the tasks for fulfilling User Stories. And you could require that the team write their own tasks, instead of doing it for them. That sounds like a lot less work. As villainous Scrum Master we want less work, not more work, right? But ultimately, the decision is yours: is the extra work for you worth the suffering you’re able to inflict?

Wrecking Ball

Let’s try a different tactic for implementing villainous Agility. I’ve heard it said many times that a good Scrum Master is a bulldozer and a shield. That means they push away the things that prevent the team from getting their work done (bulldozer) and protect them from outside interference (shield). This helps the team get their work done efficiently. But you’re a villainous Scrum Master, so bulldozers and shields are for chumps.

If you want to make the lives of your team miserable, while strictly following the rules of Agile Scrum, here are a few ways you can maximize the damage from every blocker or outside distraction:

“Tracking” Impediments

By definition, part of the Scrum Master’s job is tracking and removing impediments. As a villainous Scrum Master, you should definitely write down all of the impediments mentioned during the daily standup meetings (which are, of course, scheduled at a super-inconvenient time, so at least half the team can’t attend, and always start randomly and run as long as possible). But you can’t possibly be expected to solve them. You don’t have enough information, and a villainous Scrum Master doesn’t ask for more information, or details, or help. A villainous Scrum Master ignores the problem. After all, ignore a problem long enough and it goes away on its own. No worries!

Part three is already posted.


Sarah Stewart, SPC5, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO

Sarah is a Senior Technical PM, Agile Coach, and consultant. She helps organizations, from individual teams all the way up to the enterprise level, adopt Agile/Lean practices and frameworks. She works as a coach, trainer, mentor, and writer. Read more of Sarah’s work on LinkedIn.

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