Scrum Patterns – What to look for to see if your team is improving…or if it isn’t  

When you are looking at the dynamics of a Scrum Team, how do you know if your team is heading in the right direction? How do you determine what the next steps are for team improvement?  

One step is to look at Scrum Patterns (and Anti-Patterns). Over the years, Scrum Teams who are continuously improving have common characteristics of their successes as well as their failures. These Patterns and Anti-Patterns can help you see where improvements are being made as well as problems that need to be addressed. Many times, identifying a Pattern in a team’s behavior can lead to developing a more effective Kaizen. 

Let’s look at a brief overview of some of the more common Patterns found in Scrum Teams. 

Cross-Functional Team 

When assembling a team, ensuring the team members have all the talent necessary to deliver the product – or understand how to grow the team’s skill set – is an important step. This helps create a Cross-Functional Team who can complete work without relying on people outside the team who have the needed skills. Eliminating outside dependencies helps the team increase velocity and be more agile. 

Emergency Procedure 

No matter how hard we try, some things just never go to plan. Problems can arise during a Sprint that create enough interrupts or introduce too many new requirements or changes. When this happens, what do you do? If something causes the Sprint to implode, it is important to fall back on the Emergency Procedure pattern so the team can regroup and rapidly respond to unanticipated changes. 

Good Housekeeping 

When you return tools to the place where they belong, it is easier for the next person to use them. In the Good Housekeeping pattern, being clear with information, file storage, completed work, and the status of work being done in the Sprint helps each team member understand what needs to be done next and how they can get to information in a timely manner.  

The Happiness Metric 

Is your team engaged with their work, their team, the company? Often teams get so focused on the work being done they forget to make sure the team members are engaged with the organization as well. Teams will put more energy (and work) into something that engages them As a Scrum Pattern, we call this the Happiness Metric, even though it is more about engagement. 

Illegitimus Non Interruptus 

Interrupts Happen. Something breaks and needs to be fixed; someone quits the team; some new feature needs to be implemented.  However, when interrupts regularly occur, the team needs to look at what’s causing them and what to do to mitigate future interrupts. Often the Illegitiums Non Interruptus pattern results in both a known interrupt buffer AND organizational agreement on enforcing the buffer. 

Quantum Entanglement 

In the world of remote work, its often found that teams can lose a sense of team identity and the team members bonds get strained and can break down over time. Getting teams to work with a cohesive identity is important to well-functioning Scrum Teams. A team who works cohesively produces higher quality and moves faster. 

Stable Teams 

Stable Scrum Teams understand how their teammates work and how they work together as the become more familiar with each other. Stable Teams also benefit from the consistency of trusting their teammates and developing realistic expectations from each other. This stability helps them know their capacity so they can meet expectations in a timely fashion. 


Swarming is about getting the most business value out of a short period of time. Swarming maximizes velocity by requiring the team to work together to complete backlog items rather than individually completing the task. Team efficiency resulting from the Swarming pattern maximizes production. And brings all the team’s talents together to complete the work. 

Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster 

When teams are regularly struggling to meet their sprint goal, velocity drops and so does morale (and the Happiness Metric). Is the team taking in too much work? Are they being optimistic or realistic in how much work the team can complete in a sprint? Using other patterns like Yesterday’s Weather and Illegitiums Non Interruptus will help a team better organize work so they can increase their velocity. 

Yesterday’s Weather 

Yesterday’s Weather is a Scrum Pattern to help a team understand the historical view of how much work they can complete during a Sprint. It’s calculated based on an average of the work completed over the past three Sprints. By using Yesterday’s Weather to understand how much work to bring into a Sprint, the work can be prioritized so the team can generate the most value within their capacity. 

Scrum Patterns help teams understand how they can continue to improve how they work. Reflecting on these patterns can help a team select a Kaizen for their Sprint and see how small changes can result in big improvements. 

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