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Fixing Sprint Fatigue

posted May 19, 2015, 11:28 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jul 21, 2016, 6:37 PM ]
A person in one of the Agile forums I follow asked this question:

In a casual conversation with a new client in the throes of implementing "scrum", one developer mentioned that they ran into "sprint fatigue" with several others from that team nodding in agreement. A member of another team sitting nearby also agreed. The fellow said that he was referring to the "routineness" of the sprint activities and that it was 'boring".

The term was expressed as though the malady is a common thing in agile or at least in Scrum, but I had not heard the phrase. Is anyone else familiar with the malady and can enlighten me about it's symptoms, causes and cures?


Here was my response:

I have encountered a number of organizations that have stated "Scrum isn't working for me" or "We're tired of Scrum". More often than not, these organizations are not really practicing Scrum. When I inquire into the length of their sprints, their Definition of Ready, what's the Definition of Done, how is the Product Owner performing, etc., I get a sense of the real problem. Scrum, by definition, is not a methodology and can absolutely be modified to fit the reality on the ground. However, at some point, an organization ceases to practice Scrum. Many never practiced Scrum in the first place.

I recommend taking a team through the Agile Values and Principles and asking if the team still believes in them. I would also ask the team if they are fatigued by taking complex work, breaking them down into user stories, and delivering features that have a high probability of being valued by customers. Are they tired of managing their work and directing their destiny?

I also recommend doing a Retrospective strictly on how the team has practiced Scrum. You can pull up the Scrum Guides (http://www.scrumguides.org) and do a simple compare and contract. You may solve a lot of this Sprint Fatigue by simply improving how the team practices Scrum.