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Todd Lankford

My most viewed post right now — How deadline-driven behavior sends your Scrum Teams spinning out of control

My top posts

On Medium, I am the Editor and Writer for Serious Scrum and Simply Agile, Writer for The Startup, and a Medium Top Writer in Leadership. I have written over 95 experience-based articles on Agile, Leadership, Product Management, and Productivity.

Get a flavor for what I write about in my most popular posts below.

  1. The Best Metric for Your Product Team
  2. How transparency can kill productivity in Agile teams
  3. Nine Proven Ways to Make Your Scrum Team Hyper-productive
  4. The 9 stances of terrible…


Photo by patricia serna on Unsplash
Play the audio above to listen to the post as read by the author

A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a peer coach who was introduced to me. As we chatted, we discussed several aspects of coaching. At one point, he asked me a question that has proven difficult for me to answer.

Well, to clarify, I gave an immediate answer, but I have since changed my mind about it. The question has been weighing heavy on my mind for the past few weeks. I keep coming back to it. …


Integration to many in the software space refers to the act of making code parts work together. But integration on a Scrum Team goes far beyond this common technical reference.

Without frequent integration in many contexts outside of technology, Scrum Teams will fail. By expanding your lens on integration, you will see why it‘s a crucial ingredient for Scrum Teams.

A Brittle Branch — Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash
A Brittle Branch — Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

Software integration refers to merging, testing, and resolving issues with software component interoperability. But for a Scrum Team, integrating knowledge, learning, and team members is of equal importance:

  • Integration of the reality on the ground into go-forward plans.
  • Adapting your…


I’ve seen many teams freeze up when learning to use Scrum. When faced with a sticky mess blocking the Agile path, it’s easy to conclude, “Scrum won’t work here.” But I don’t buy it.

How to hold strong when Scrum is not working for you
A Big Boulder to Move — Photo by Vicky Sim on Unsplash

Scrum floods your problem areas with a bright, white light. This is both the beauty and the frustration of the framework.

Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

— The 2020 Scrum Guide

For Scrum to work, you can’t turn around…


Autonomous. Self-organizing. Self-managing. When I hear these words, it reminds me of a magnet — a magnet for attracting responsibility.

Autonomous Scrum Teams are like powerful responsibility magnets
Strong Magnet Photo by Dan-Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Scrum requires this responsibility magnet to be powerful. To deliver a working product, Scrum Teams pull all responsibilities into their force field. Take this excerpt from The Scrum Guide:

“The Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities from stakeholder collaboration, verification, maintenance, operation, experimentation, research and development, and anything else that might be required.”

The 2020 Scrum Guide

The Guide is not bashful in its target model for Scrum Teams. It applies no half-measures. …


Should Scrum Teams feel guilty for taking a break?
Charlie Waiting to Go Walk — Photo by the Author

Yesterday I felt guilty for walking my dogs. The guilt was self-imposed. Nobody told me I should be working instead of taking Charlie and Wilson for a walk. But there it was in my head, loud and clear.

Working remote for the last year and a half has blurred the lines between work and life. Work is taking over life and feeding off of it like a parasite.

It occurred to me if I’m feeling like this as an Agile coach, the teams I coach must feel it ten times over.

Plan the Sprint. Deliver the increment. Review the output…


Spinning Out of Control — Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

If you want to hear the deafening sound of utter silence, say these words to a software delivery manager:

“To increase the odds of hitting your goals, don’t push your teams to deliver by a deadline.”

Having the slightest disdain for deadlines and plans is the ultimate form of bad manners in a corporate world. The corporate engine happily hums along by trying to deliver ideas by promised dates. Employees get hired and promoted based on their prowess at this game.

And yet, driving a set scope to a fixed date within a certain budget is the worst way to…


Who hasn’t fantasized about being an archaeologist? Since a young age, I have dreamt of going on an adventure in a far-away land, finding a dig site, and unearthing history. The lure and mystery of the unknown are intoxicating.

4 ways Scrum Teams can act like curious archaeologists
Tyrannosaurus — Photo by Brett Meliti on Unsplash

But life goes on. You go to school, start a career, and before long, you forget about your childhood dreams of adventure. You get stuck in the rhythms of life. Curiosity fades.

In many ways, this happens to Scrum Teams, too. Scrum Teams form, go through training, and get into a Sprint rhythm. Before long, they are stuck on repeat. …


Is SAFe the Agile hit song you think it is?
Photo by Pien Muller on Unsplash

I am stunned when hear a product group is using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to improve their Agile game. Not only does this reveal a misunderstanding of Agile, but it shows a retreat from Agile to tools, process, and big batch planning.

Product groups often bring me in as an Agile coach to coach them on their SAFe journey. They ask me to assess and tune up Agile fundamentals. On occasion, I come into a program who is preparing for their first Program Increment (PI) Planning¹ event.

The typical course of action sends the entire program (in many cases…


How Scrum Teams can ooze cool like Miles Davis and create something timeless
Image by minka2507 from Pixabay

Cool…that was Miles.

Miles Davis was an innovator, a rule breaker. He was never satisfied with whatever heights he had achieved. And his curiosity kept him starving for what was next, playing with new sounds and genres until his death.

Kind of Blue was his breakthrough album, and most would agree it redefined Jazz forever. This album was like nothing before it, unique, edgy, and fearless.

Go ahead and give it a listen below as you read this post. Get lost in the rich, moving soundscape as his trumpet both soothes and energizes your mind. …

Todd Lankford

I help organizations simplify their Agile journey by building cultures to emerge better products. https://www.linkedin.com/in/todd-lankford-agile-coach/

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