Cherry Picking

Cherry Picking
: Select the most desirable item from a backlog without reference to priority or plan

Proverbs: Glory built on selfish principles is shame and guilt

Motivation: Team members are often tempted to select those items from a backlog which they expect to be the most gratifying for them, or the easiest to do. 

Structure: A team member lays claim to an item that was not the highest priority for actioning. The claim is made by placing his or her avatar on the item. They may assert ownership either while the item is still in the backlog or by bringing it into work in progress.

Applicability: Cherry picking often occurs in teams where the members are not cross-trained. Members may regard certain items as “their” work rather than the team’s work, and try to lay claim to them accordingly. Backlogs items that have been insufficiently groomed for actioning may be avoided by team members who attempt to cherry-pick others.

Consequences: If cherry-picking is left unaddressed, it will reinforce skill silos and reduce team cohesion, cross-functionality, and trust.

: Cherry picking can occur in Kanban. There is a danger of confusing this anti-pattern with Quality of Service, since different terms of service can imply that certain backlog items are preferentially treated. Cherry picking can also occur in Scrum, where the selection of an item by a developer is not in accordance with the team’s Sprint Plan. This anti-pattern is associated less with XP since pair programming limits the opportunity for individual developers to cherry pick.

See Also: Avatar