Chaos Monkey

We have found that the best defense against major unexpected failures is to fail often. By frequently causing failures, we force our services to be built in a way that is more resilient.”

This is the first line from a Netflix tech blog post dated July 30th, 2012. They were reacting to an explosion of scale in number of subscribers and an infrastructure that had to be robust enough to adapt quickly to that changing environment.

For a Scrum Team, many things act as a chaos monkey.

Markets fail and new markets emerge.

Developers leave and new developers come on board.

Technology choices fail and new technology choices emerge.

Management practices fail and better ones emerge.

Products fail and companies pivot to create ones that succeed.

Scrum Teams prepare themselves to weather the ravages of these and myriad other failures by cultivating their self-organization and their cross-functionality. They spur each other on to constantly improve to meet the challenge of the next Sprint Review or the next organization road bump. They keep their iterations short and re-orient their efforts often. They band together and lean on each others strengths to weather whatever outage they experience.

They don’t dread the next problem, because they have learned to find the opportunity lodged within it.

When you next hear the screech of chaos monkey, link arms with your team mates and just keeping delivering. Examine your increment, retrospect, plan, then do and keep doing.

Keep calm and Scrum on.


Jason is a developer, Scrum Master, writer, teacher, coach, husband, father, and community leader out of Tulsa Oklahoma. He's been delivering software since 2007 and absolutely loves the values and principles of agility especially as given form by the Scrum framework.