There is a team that consists from consultants and permanent staff. The consultants have an idea of what scrum is, but they do zombie scrum.

The agile coach has identified that this team really needs help but they are very distant and do not include him in their meetings. Also, this is a water-scrum-fall team.

Other teams around the agile coach have benefited from his advice and have made advancements in their agile implementation, but this one resists, because they do things their own way. Since there is a collaboration amongst other teams, this team is impeding further advancements in the whole area, such as going end to end and complete autonomy.

Should the agile coach wait for the to ask for help, and just point out the things he thinks could help (even if they never do for the next few months), or should he be more authoritative and dictate the way they should work, in order to facilitate a broader agile adoption?

2 Answers 2


Senior management is in need of your coaching the most

You described the process in this organization as follows:

this is a water-scrum-fall team

This means the upstream processes namely requirements gathering and related processes are traditional. The downstream processes are also traditional, namely code is released to production at infrequent intervals. Just the in-between development process is Scrum.

You also said:

Since there is a collaboration amongst other teams, this team is impeding further advancements in the whole area

Isn't it surprising to you that senior management has not stepped in when one team is impeding the rest of the organization?

Given this setup, it seems to me that senior management needs to understand the value and need for Agile/Scrum. Once you get the senior management buy-in, you may be able to persuade the teams to follow suit.

In the meantime, it is better not to bad mouth the existing processes as "zombie scrum" and so on. That is not a great way to start building trust with the team. The team most likely has organizational constraints that they cannot get past.


Why does the team need to be converted to scrum?

In your question you've mentioned that they use water-scrum-fall and that your observation is that they're following their processes blindly. However you've not explained the challenges which the team are currently facing, where they're currently falling down, or the nature of the work they're doing.

Step back from scrum and think about Agile, specifically the first of the four values:

Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools

PEOPLE and the teams' outputs matter more than the processes they're following. Don't try and force a scrum process onto a team, you may end up trying to fit a square peg into a round hole (not to mention the fact that they'll almost certainly reject them). You may of course be correct and that scrum would suit them perfectly but this reads to me like you've got a solution before a problem. It may be that Kanban works better, Scrumban, or XP.

Ask your consultant to shadow the team, create an informal retrospective meeting and ask the team members what stops them from doing a good job. Ask them what they'd change if they had the proverbial magic wand.

Once you understand the challenges work with the team to build processes which help the team overcome them (these solutions of course may be inspired by scrum/other teams but they may not be).

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