How to Successfully Defeat Dark Scrum in 2024?

How to defeat dark scrum

If you are a part of the project management paradigm, then you would know that even at the best of times, many scrum projects can fail. We know that they are a part of a very powerful project management methodology named Agile, but still, it can fail.

In a completely perfect world, Scrum and Scrum related artifacts are considered project saviors. It is the one methodology that is bound to make your team more productive (*among other elements, of course), but sometimes it acts as the complete opposite.

As a result, the company suffers and the team is disbanded.

All of this happens when the company comes face to face with Dark Scrum. We know that word sounds like a plan an Avengers villain would devise, but this is a very serious issue that causes many projects and companies to fail each year.

Dark Scrum happens when all of the concepts of Agile and all the different aspects of teamwork are ridiculed with unreasonable expectations put forth by any number of people associated with the project.

The teamwork is the worst element of the company to be damaged by the effects of Dark Scrum. Because the Dark Scrum attacks every aspect of comradery among the team members and stakeholders, causing every single tie and relationship among them to be eliminated.

So, what is the limit to which Dark Scrum can damage the Agile project management process? Let’s take a look, but first, let’s give you a brief tutorial about Scrum.

Brief Introduction to Scrum

intro to scrum

As you probably know, Scrum is one of the most popular Agile product management methodologies that is filled with different elements like team roles, specific values, and rituals that are needed to make sure that the project development goes smoothly without any hiccup.

Scrum at first was created to handle all of the software development processes but as time passed the world realized its value, nearly every industry adopted the methodology.

In 1986 it was described as a development approach that mimics the sport rugby as the development team that uses Scrum, moves onwards and onwards while passing the tasks back and forth among all the team members.

Even the name of this approach comes from the sport of Rugby.

Today this approach has been employed by many different areas like,

  • Construction Businesses
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Military
  • Automotive Industries

And many other different industries all over the world.

When it comes to Dark Scrum, the term was coined by Ron Jeffries, who is a founder of Extreme Programming and one of the authors of the famous Agile Manifesto, which is followed by Agile project managers all over the world.

Let’s take a look at what happens to Scrum which causes it to go dark.

Why Does Scrum Go Dark?

As we know that Scrum is a highly celebrated Agile strategy that is highly efficient and bound to increase the productivity of the teammates, and also, it is one of the leading choices whenever you want to increase the flexibility of any other methodology, by merging Scrum with it.

This merger of the two strategies is known as a Hybrid Project Management Methodology which is highly useful when just one methodology just won’t take care of the project as you want.

Even independently, Scrum teams are highly efficient when it comes to working in sprints and deliver all of the goals and milestones that the project manager or the company has set for the team members to achieve.

However, there are times when all of this superiority of focus, the amazing maintainability of teamwork among the team members, and all the different strategies of scrum regarding result generation, can be blindfolded by Dark Scrum.

What Dark Scrum does is that it damages the morale of the team which kills all of the motivation and energy that the team mustered in themselves before starting the project development process.

All of this happens due to the unreasonable expectations of the stakeholders and any other high-level personnel connected to the project.

Because when the team fails to accomplish these expectations, it creates a rift between the stakeholders and the team members, and even amongst the team members as well.

All of this results in Agile acting like a three-legged donkey whose foot has been amputated and is not stumbling all over the place, never to find stability.

What this does is that it will cause the sprint planning process into an extremely stressful game that can neither be won by the team and nor will it finish that quickly and easily. This longevity of the sprint planning process will create conflicts between the teammates.

Some experts in the project management and Agile paradigm believe that the Dark Scrum is a constant entity that stays beside Good Scrum at all times and many projects are affected by it (more than managers care to admit anyway).

Dark Scrum honestly feels like a monster threatening to wipe out the Agile civilization. Let’s take a look at the signs of Dark Scrum.

Signs of Dark Scrum

Here are some of the most important signs of Dark Scrum.

  • A very obvious sign of dark scrum to befall your team and the whole project is when the project manager of the whole shindig fails to assemble the proper personnel needed to take care of all of the tasks and activities needed to be completed, to make the project a success. This causes the project to be delayed and the resources are wasted.
  • The second reason is the lack of knowledge when it comes to test-driven development by the development team and also refactoring of the project elements.
  • The team also gets subdued into Dark scrum when the product owner forces the team members to deliver all of the tasks and elements associated with the project at an unreasonably fast pace, causing rifts among the team and the project to be delayed even further.
  • Another major cause of Dark Scrum is the allocation of work being done by the management and not the team members themselves. This is extremely harmful to the project because the management doesn’t know about the strengths and weaknesses of the employees and when they assign the work and not the team members themselves, things spiral out of hand and the project gets delayed even further.
  • Dark Scrum is also caused by multiple responsible personnel demanding the work to be done as soon as possible. These responsible personalities can be the project manager of the product owner, or the scrum master.
  • One other reason for Dark Scrum to occur is when a Scrum Team is about to be formed but there are no blueprints or a map to show the way to do that effectively.
  • Dark Scrum also occurs when the Scrum methodology is applied to a specific industry or domain for whom, the scrum methodology was not designed for.
  • This scenario also occurs when the Scrum team is assembled but it is highly ill-equipped both in knowledge and in resources, resulting in the team getting frustrated after a short while and causing them to abandon the sprints altogether.

How to Respond to Dark Scrum?

how to respond to dark scrum

There is no hard and fast rule to get rid of Dark scrum as it can’t be so easily eradicated and even if you do stumble on away, it’s still a very little chance that you will succeed to recover from this much damage that has been caused by the Dark scrum to your team members and other elements.

The major problem that comes in our way when we try to get rid of the Dark scrum is the lack of knowledge and lack of power.

The management, as we know, is not very knowledgeable when it comes to Agile and that immediately results in a malfunction when it comes to eradicating Dark Scrum because if they don’t have the knowledge and the team members lack the power to inflict some damage, the Dark Scrum will never be defeated.

However, there is still hope in this gloomy world. The scrum master just needs to create realistic goals with realistic timelines that the team members can easily accomplish with each occurring sprint.

This will result in the company getting out of this Dark Scrum situation but everyone needs to be vigilant because as we discussed above, there are a lot of different reasons that can help Dark Scrum to come back.

Perform Scrum with nTask


There are a lot of different management software that can help you with Scrum and how it is implemented in your project development process.

But with nTask you will never have to worry about any missing piece or hidden scope creep to become a Dark Scrum seed and haunt you till that project is scrapped.

Most of the applications in this category are free software that doesn’t have a lot of features to take care of your project management needs, but nTask is impressive software that has a lot of different project management core features that take care of your company in every situation.

nTask core features are: 

When there are so many different features to monitor every part of the project, how is Dark Scrum supposed to hide?

The software also tracks the tasks and all the other metrics associated with it.

This data stops the stakeholders and the upper management staff to ask for different deliverables in unrealistic sprint durations and creates a sense of respect for each other’s boundaries when it comes to the project development process.



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