Colour me bad Mofo.

Colour me.

Colour me bad.

Yeah you heard me.

It’s your big old white board talking.

I see you shoving your planned and unplanned work on the same color cards.

But what the hell for?

Why aint you distinguishing between whats planned and unplanned VISUALLY?

I can’t show the world the reality of our 2 week time box if every piece of work is on the same color card.

When I say reality I’m talking about us as a Scrum team.

We’re meant to be focused on the sprint goal right?  BUT we do accept that we should have a small amount of  our team providing a support function – by small amount I’m talking 20%, but when the split is like 60% support  & 40% project work, that stinks of a serious problem.

Before you pipe up with ” but in Scrum unplanned work should never come into our sprints”.

Stop preaching to the converted buddy.

Arsene Wenger should be buying more players for Arsenal but we aint gonna change that sh*t over night sweet heart.

So what we need to do is be useful with our thinking.

Useful in how we can begin to deal with unplanned work. Of course, the ideal is to be hard nosed about it and just stop it from coming in- but not many of us would last long in our jobs as SM’s if we were simply dogmatic about unplanned work.

Useful thinking….to me?

I see it as ‘useful’ to find a visually powerful & undeniable way to  highlight the problems impacting the sprint.

If we can effectively highlight the problem we have more of a chance of getting the attention of the ‘right’ people to eventually fix the problem as opposed to the constant battling between PO & SM for when an unplanned issue flies in.

So how do we address the underlying problem of unplanned work – where can we start?

Grab your wallet and get over to Rymans.

Get some white cards, blue cards & red cards.

Say white cards are planned work & blue cards are unplanned work and red, they can be defects. (Don’t try and get clever thinking “but defects are unplanned work” – they are but I can’t be bothered to explain that right now, so read on).

Now look at this board, it’s the outcome of a Sprint:


We got 9 unplanned cards (blue)

We got 9 planned cards, y’know user stories (white)

We got 3 red cards (defects)

And we got 3 green cards (Spikes) (go back to Rymans, I forgot about these at the top)


When we present the Show & Tell to the business and show that 50% of our work is project & 50% is support work -> that sends out a powerful message.

We just want to present the facts.

Maybe,  that’ll encourage the business to:

  • Disturb us less with unplanned queries
  • Inspire Product Owners to chase down whoever they need to chase earlier to get work into the sprint planning meeting
  • Justify  the hiring of a bigger help desk team to deal with 1st line support requests instead of 3rd line (your Scrum team) shouldering the responsibility.

So yeah, loads of unplanned work is ‘bad’.

But not using your board to illustrate the situation, that’s far worse.

So even if it’s for the ugly, ‘bad’ blue coloured ,unplanned work.

Go ahead and colour me.





Ok that wasn’t necessary.

But I’m trying to play the role of a an angry white board.

That definitely wasn’t necessary.


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