Remove these 4 types of waste to become more productive in Scrum

Scrum Productivity Improvement and Waste Elimination

Introduction to Scrum Productivity Improvement and Waste Elimination

We recommend starting with the attached video for a more comprehensive grasp of Scrum productivity improvement.

Scrum, a powerful framework for agile project management, offers a pathway to success. Whether you’re a seasoned Scrum practitioner or new to the framework, improving productivity is a common goal.

In this blog post, we will dive into the world of Scrum productivity improvement by exploring how eliminating four key types of waste can make your Scrum team more productive.

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What Is Considered as Waste in Scrum?

Before we dive into the specifics of eliminating waste, it’s essential to understand what we mean by waste in the context of Scrum productivity improvement.

Waste refers to any activity or practice that consumes time, resources, or energy without adding value to the end product or the team’s effectiveness.


Imagine a Scrum team is tasked with developing a complex mobile application with numerous features. The product owner sets a goal of delivering the entire application, including all features, in just one month. This goal is unrealistic given the team’s size and the complexity of the project.


To address the challenge of impossible goals, the Scrum team can implement the following steps:

1. Embrace SMART Goals:

  • Specific: Define the goal with precision. Instead of aiming to “complete the entire application,” break it down into specific components or features.
  • Measurable: Establish clear criteria for success. How will you measure progress and completion?
  • Achievable: Ensure that the goal is realistic and attainable within the given timeframe and with the available resources.
  • Relevant: Confirm that the goal aligns with the overall project objectives and is worth pursuing.
  • Time-bound: Set a realistic deadline for achieving the goal.

2. Collaborative Goal Setting:

  • Encourage collaboration among team members and stakeholders during the goal-setting process. This ensures that everyone has a shared understanding of what is achievable and valuable.
  • Conduct regular discussions and workshops where team members can provide input and collectively agree on goals. This fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

3. Skill and Resource Assessment:

  • Before committing to a goal, assess whether the team possesses the necessary skills and resources to accomplish it.
  • If the team lacks certain skills or resources, create a plan to address these gaps, such as training, hiring, or reallocating responsibilities.

By adopting SMART goals and involving the team in the goal-setting process, you can transform unrealistic aspirations into Scrum productivity improvement targets.

This not only boosts productivity but also enhances team morale and motivation, leading to more successful outcomes in your Scrum projects.

Image illustrating Your Path from Pain to Scrum Mastery

Unreasonable Expectations

Unattainable expectations can lead to frustration and hinder progress in your Scrum team’s productivity improvement.

When stakeholders or management have expectations that exceed the team’s capacity or capabilities, it can result in missed deadlines, subpar quality, and demoralized team members.


Consider a Scrum team responsible for a web development project. The project’s stakeholders, eager to outdo competitors, expect the team to deliver a fully functional, feature-rich website within two weeks. However, the team typically takes a month to produce similar websites of high quality.


To address the challenge of unreasonable expectations, follow these steps:

1. Prioritize Open Communication:

  • Establish a culture of transparency and open communication between the Scrum team and stakeholders.
  • Encourage stakeholders to express their expectations clearly and be receptive to feedback from the team regarding what is achievable.

2. Understand and Communicate Team Capabilities:

  • Ensure that stakeholders have a thorough understanding of the team’s capabilities and limitations.
  • Share information about the team’s past performance, including velocity, cycle time, and historical data that demonstrates what the team can realistically achieve.

3. Data-Driven Expectations

  • Use data-driven insights from previous sprints and projects to set expectations grounded in reality.
  • Share these insights with stakeholders to provide a factual basis for estimating project timelines and outcomes.

4. Collaborative Estimation

  • Involve stakeholders in the estimation process, especially during sprint planning.
  • When stakeholders actively participate in the estimation discussions, they gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities and trade-offs involved in the work.

By prioritizing open communication, educating stakeholders about the team’s capabilities, and relying on data-driven insights, you can bridge the gap between unrealistic expectations and Scrum productivity improvement.

This not only ensures smoother project execution but also fosters a more collaborative and understanding relationship between the Scrum team and stakeholders, ultimately leading to greater productivity.

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Overloading your Scrum team with too many tasks or projects can lead to burnout and decreased Scrum productivity improvement.

It’s important to recognize that, in Scrum, less can often be more. Overloading your team with work can compromise the quality of the deliverables and the well-being of your team members.


Consider a Scrum team responsible for software development. In a misguided effort to accelerate project delivery, the product owner assigns an excessive number of user stories to the team for the upcoming sprint. The team members are already working at full capacity, and the additional workload leads to increased stress, longer working hours, and decreased morale.


To address the challenge of overload and promote a more balanced and productive work environment, follow these steps:

1. Embrace the Scrum Principle of Focus

  • Reiterate the Scrum principle of limiting the work in progress (WIP) by focusing on a limited number of items during each sprint.
  • Emphasize that quality and value should take precedence over quantity.

2. Cultivate a Culture of Saying “No”

  • Encourage team members to speak up and say “no” when the team’s capacity is full.
  • Highlight that it’s better to deliver a smaller number of high-quality items than to rush through a larger volume of work.

3. Prioritize Work Based on Business Value

  • Collaborate closely with the product owner and stakeholders to prioritize work items based on their business value.
  • Ensure that the most valuable and impactful items are given precedence in the sprint backlog.

4. Regularly Review and Adjust

  • Conduct sprint retrospectives to assess the team’s capacity and identify areas where overload has occurred.
  • Use these insights to make adjustments to future sprint planning and workload allocation.

By adhering to the Scrum principle of focus, fostering a culture of open communication around capacity, and prioritizing work based on business value, you can prevent overload, protect your team’s well-being, and maintain a high level of Scrum productivity improvement in your Scrum projects.

Emotional Waste

Emotional waste, characterized by conflicts, unresolved issues, and negative emotions within a Scrum team, can disrupt team dynamics and lead to decreased Scrum productivity improvement.

Maintaining a positive and collaborative team environment is crucial for success in Scrum.


Imagine a Scrum team working on a critical project. Over time, tensions rise due to differences in opinions and unresolved conflicts among team members. These emotional strains impact the team’s ability to communicate effectively, make decisions, and work together cohesively, ultimately slowing down their progress.


To address emotional waste and foster a healthier team dynamic, consider these steps:

1. Promote a Safe and Open Team Environment:

  • Encourage team members to express their thoughts, concerns, and emotions openly without fear of judgment or retaliation.
  • Create a culture where constructive feedback and disagreement are welcomed as opportunities for growth.

2. Implement Regular Retrospectives:

  • Hold regular retrospectives at the end of each sprint to reflect on team interactions, communication, and emotional well-being.
  • Use retrospective meetings to identify and address any emotional waste, such as unresolved conflicts or tensions, that may be affecting the team.

3. Conflict Resolution Skills

  • Provide team members with training in conflict resolution and communication skills.
  • Equip team leads and Scrum Masters with the ability to mediate conflicts and facilitate constructive conversations.

4. Continuous Improvements

  • Use the insights gained from retrospectives to make continuous improvements in team dynamics.
  • Encourage the team to collaboratively develop action plans to address emotional waste and enhance team cohesion.

By promoting a safe and open team environment, implementing regular retrospectives, and addressing emotional waste constructively, you can create a positive and emotionally healthy work environment that enhances team morale and, ultimately, drives Scrum productivity improvement in your Scrum projects.

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In the world of Scrum, productivity is not just about doing more; it’s about doing the right things efficiently.

By recognizing and eliminating waste, you can supercharge your Scrum team’s productivity improvement.

Remember, Scrum is a framework that encourages continuous improvement, so use these waste-reduction strategies as a starting point and refine them to fit your team’s unique needs.

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As you embark on your quest for greater productivity in Scrum, keep in mind that it’s not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing journey of learning, adapting, and optimizing. 

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