Kate's team has noticed that their burn down chart shows trouble. The chart is right.

“This always happens,” said Clancy. “We get halfway through the Sprint or so, and the burn chart starts showing us falling behind.We need to fix that.”

“What’s causing the lag?” said Kate.

Marcia said, “One reason is the the other testers and I can’t start testing the code until we get it. We keep testing more deeply on the things we do have but the testing tasks for this Sprint aren’t being started.”

Gil stood up. “You’re always blaming us for not getting the software to you. That’s just not true. We deliver it as fast as we can.”

David said, “That’s right. We’re going as fast as we can. The real issue is that database tasks are taking us too long to do. I’ve always said we need a better database sandbox and the right to make our own DBA changes.”

Jim said, “Maybe those things are in there, but what’s really going on is that our estimates suck. We should take more time designing the system so that we’ll know how long things will take. And we should be using Fibonacci planning.”

Bill said, “We don’t even get the tasks right. New tasks show up, old ones turn out not to be needed after all. How could the burn chart possibly be right?”

Jim said, “That just proves my point about needing better design.”

Gil said, “Maybe just you need better design, Jim. A lot of us think so. And your ability to estimate could be questioned as well. My designs and estimates are just fine. Things slow down after they are out of my hands.”

Jim began to turn red. Marcia said, “Hold on, Gil. We find bugs in your code, as many or more than other people. Maybe it’s bug fixing that is slowing us down.”

Gil leaned over the table at Marcia. “If I get more bug reports than other people, it’s because I write twice as much code as anyone else, and don’t you forget it!”

Kate pulled her emergency whistle out of her cleavage and blew it. Everyone stopped and looked at her. She said, “Whoa, stop! Gil, sit down.

Gil transferred his glare to Kate. Kate looked back quietly. Gil sat down.

“Good move,” someone said. “Her use of the Force is stronger than your Krav Maga.” Everyone laughed, even Gil.

Kate said, “We’re trying to solve a problem here, not assess blame or eat our young. Everyone has a different explanation for progress slowing down. Suppose I were a scientist. Oh, wait, I am a scientist. Anyway, how could we know what is really happening?”

Everyone thought a minute. Then Marcia said, “We could have some kind of display of what’s going on, what’s being worked on, what’s held up and so on. Maybe Clancy could make a chart.”

Jim said, “We could add a couple of questions to the Daily Scrum.Or maybe Clancy  should track all the tasks and add them up.”

Clancy frowned and began to speak. Then Bill said, “Wait, has anyone ever heard of a kanban board?”

Note from Ron:

I happen to know that Kate’s team went ahead and tried a kanban board. She tells me that they discovered that the board told them more than the burn down, with more facts and less numerology. They stopped using the burn chart entirely.

Kate’s team think they are doing Scrum. They have added in elements of kanban; they use aspects of Lean. By now, in real time, if not in book time, they are using all the XP practices. They think they are doing Scrum, and since they have one of the most successful projects I’ve ever seen, I’m not going to say they aren’t. It would reduce Scrum’s success score.

I think they’re not doing Scrum “by the book”, they are doing it “by the heart”, and they rock. The Scrum that can be written about is not the true Scrum.