7 Leadership Interventions That Can Undermine Scrum Teams’ Success: How to Avoid Them

As a leader, it’s essential to recognise that specific interventions can harm Scrum teams and their ability to succeed.

At the outset, it is a common misconception that Scrum and Agile ways of working are solely focused on meeting deadlines and adhering to plans. However, the true meaning of Agility lies in the ability to embrace change and adapt to new circumstances. Unfortunately, this fundamental attribution error often tempts some leaders to intervene and spoil many aspects of Scrum, including Scrum Values, self-management, and the team’s ability to respond to changes and learn to solve problems for themselves.

As a leader, it’s essential to recognise that specific interventions can harm Scrum teams and their ability to succeed. So here are seven leadership interventions to avoid:


Scrum teams are self-organising and self-managing, which means that micromanagement is unnecessary and can harm team dynamics. It undermines the team’s autonomy and can cause team members to feel disengaged and demotivated.

Imposing solutions

Scrum teams are empowered to find their own solutions to problems. However, leaders who impose their solutions on the team undermine their autonomy and miss out on the valuable insights and ideas the team can bring.

Rushing the process

Scrum is a process framework that requires time and patience to implement correctly. Leaders who rush the process or push for quick results can end up sacrificing the quality of the team’s work and compromise the framework’s effectiveness.

Treating Product Backlog as a fixed plan

The Product Backlog is the heart of the Scrum framework, and it’s essential to understand its emergent nature correctly to ensure that the team is working on the most valuable stuff items first. When the product backlog in Scrum is treated as a fixed plan, it undermines the framework’s agility. This often results in running a mini waterfall in the name of Scrum, causing a significant setback in achieving true agility.

Ignoring the Scrum Values

Scrum is built on core values, including focus, commitment, openness, courage and respect. Leaders who ignore these values can cause a breakdown in team cohesion and undermine the framework’s effectiveness.

Overloading the team

Scrum teams work best with a manageable and sustainable workload. However, leaders who overload the team with too many tasks or responsibilities can cause team members to feel overwhelmed and stressed, leading to burnout and decreased productivity.

Failing to trust the team

Trust is a crucial component of the Scrum framework. Leaders who fail to trust their team members to make the right decisions can create a culture of fear and micromanagement, stifling creativity and innovation.

Concluding thoughts

Several leadership interventions can be detrimental to Scrum teams and their ability to succeed. By avoiding micromanagement, imposing solutions, rushing the process, failing to prioritise the Product Backlog, ignoring Scrum Values, overloading the team, and failing to trust the team, leaders can create a culture of empowerment and collaboration that fosters creativity, innovation, and success.

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