The discussion regarding the most effective way to organise and manage software engineering teams has been ongoing, with Scrum garnering more criticism than praise. Common grievances include:
- The process may trump effort.
- It’s just micromanagement disguised as something else.
- Stand-ups may seem like justification meetings daily.
At times, the roles and responsibilities of Scrum can be misunderstood. When a Product Owner has too many expectations for a single sprint, or attempts to alter the priority of tasks mid-sprint, it can be a source of frustration for a Scrum Master who is passionate about maintaining the team’s velocity and adhering to the principles of Scrum. The longer a team works with the Scrum framework, the more the question arises: “Is it the methodology or are we the cause of the challenges?
Scrum’s False Expectations
While there are numerous dysfunctions that can be attributed to a lack of familiarity with the Scrum framework, the root cause of the majority of them is failing to recognise that Scrum is not designed to resolve existing organisational issues simply by adhering to the process. If this concept is not fully understood, it could potentially lead to rapid complications for newly established teams.
Scrum enables teams to work more quickly
As a new team transitioning to the Scrum framework, it can be difficult to understand the terminology that is specific to this method of project management. For instance, one may ask, “What is a Scrum Master?” or “What is the difference between a Product Owner and a Product Manager?” Additionally, one may wonder, “What are Narrative Points and how do they get assigned?” By taking the time to become familiar with the language of Scrum, a team can maximise the efficiency of their workflow without needing to increase resources.
It is concerning that many individuals conflate terms such as velocity and sprints with the concept of speed. The main objective of Agile methodologies, including Scrum, is to deliver a finished product. As your team becomes more experienced with the Scrum framework, they will be able to deliver new features at a faster rate. However, it is important to note that speed is not always the primary objective. It is essential to ensure that this distinction is understood by members of the Scrum team, as well as when communicating the Scrum methodology to other members of the organisation.
Speed is not the point here; rather, satisfaction is.
Company Culture Issues Will Be Resolved By Adhering To The Strict Scrum Process
It is important to understand that each organisation has its own unique approach to work. Some may prefer to collaborate in groups and meetings, while others may opt for an individualistic ‘work hard, play hard’ approach. While each of these has its benefits, it is equally important to be aware of their respective drawbacks. For example, a company that values meetings may find it challenging to hold daily stand-ups, while aggressive and fast-paced teams could be prone to scope creep during a sprint.
It can be easy to forget the bigger goals when working in newly-established teams, and it is essential that the end goal is achieved, rather than focusing on following each step of the process. Instead of criticising the approach taken, it is important to continuously look for ways to improve the working style in order to meet the desired objectives.
Meeting delegates can be sent by critical contributors
When initiating the procedure, it is absolutely essential that the original team is involved rather than assigning tasks to delegates. One of the most common criticisms I have heard from developers is that Scrum masters and product owners were not available when needed, and their representatives were not given the authority to make decisions. It is highly dissatisfying for developers to attend a meeting expecting to receive a resolution, only to be told that the individual who can make the decision is unavailable.
Scrum requires that participants be empowered as well as delegated.
Stand-up meetings are meant to make employees more focused. However, studies show that daily stand-up meetings do not necessarily boost productivity
At the daily stand-up meeting, it is important to prioritise removing any impediments or developing creative solutions to any issues that have arisen. This should take precedence over a review of what each team member has accomplished in the previous 24 hours. Focusing on ways to improve efficiency and prevent future issues from arising can be a great use of the meeting time.
It is essential for Scrum Masters to demonstrate assertiveness while avoiding dominating the team. It is critical that they create an environment conducive to collaboration and productivity, in order to ensure successful completion of projects. By establishing a respectful yet productive atmosphere, Scrum Masters can ensure that their teams have the necessary conditions necessary to succeed.
It is impossible to be successful on your first attempt
Scrum encourages exploration, analysis, and learning through trial and error. It is a cyclical process, both in terms of how the outcome is achieved and in terms of how the process is managed. With its easy implementation, Scrum can be quickly adopted by teams, however, it requires a dedication to continual improvement and ongoing involvement in the framework.
Scrum processes that have failed can be repaired
Scrum is designed to combat the sunk cost fallacy, whereby decisions are made based on previously invested resources rather than on future potential benefits. Its iterative structure gives teams the ability to modify or abandon approaches that are not producing the desired results. If you find that your Scrum process is not performing as you had hoped, there are a few strategies you can consider.
Adjust Your Expectations
In order to achieve success, teams need to commit their efforts and allocate their resources appropriately. After each sprint, it is advisable to strive to have fully functioning and tested code ready to be deployed into the production environment. This is a realistic target for new teams to work towards.
It is possible to measure the success of advanced teams by evaluating their ability to produce, test, and deploy products on-demand. Additionally, it is important to assess user responses to new features and determine if the larger company is prepared to support product modifications made by the team. It is essential to consider these factors in order to ensure the success of the team.
It is essential that team members are provided with the necessary guidance and direction to ensure they can make the most meaningful contribution to the team. Managers should ensure that team members are equipped with the necessary skills and confidence to make informed decisions and involve other team members when appropriate. Managers should also be proactive in removing any barriers or obstacles that may be hindering the team’s progress and be prepared to offer assistance when needed.
Address Issues Proactively
Scrum is not meant to act as a superficial solution to any underlying issues within your company; if such issues remain unresolved, they are likely to rear their head during the product development process. To assist with this, Scrum Masters can introduce frameworks which will help team members to present their thoughts and opinions in an orderly, constructive manner, reducing the potential for conflict.
The “I desire, I wonder, What if” paradigm is a useful tool for providing feedback during team talks or retrospectives. For instance, a team member could say “I wish stand-up meetings could focus more on any potential challenges I might face that day.” Alternatively, they could start with their own phrase, such as “I enjoy…” This can be a great way to generate meaningful and productive conversations.
The Holocracy Triage approach, designed by Brian Robertson, is an effective system of organised feedback that has been utilised by various organisations, including Zappos. During meetings, it is beneficial to adopt this approach as it encourages participants to create an agenda of “tensions” to discuss. Each person is invited to express their issue in the form of “I have a tension” and to identify the people and resources they need to resolve it. This system of feedback is designed to enable individuals to interact and address issues without creating a hostile environment.
A retrospective can be used to improve processes and fix problems
Retrospective analysis is often disregarded in the corporate world, likely due to the fear that it will become a platform for unresolved issues and conflict. It is essential that the team creates parameters that embody their values and the corporate identity. Establishing clear boundaries in the retrospective process can ensure that it is an effective and beneficial tool that leads to productive results.
It is essential to ensure that investments are not being made in inefficient and outdated processes. What was successful in the past may not be as effective in the future. Many teams are faced with the challenge of adapting to changes in their composition, due to members being moved to other teams, being promoted or leaving the company. As the team dynamic evolves, it is essential to keep in mind that the Scrum methodology is based on an iterative process where mistakes may be made but can be rectified quickly as the process is repeated.
Scrum works better when the Principle members are present
In order to be an effective member of the team, it is essential to remain present and accessible. Product creation is the most significant procedure that a company can do in order to support its long-term success and development. As a result, the Scrum process, which is the primary avenue for producing new products, must be given the attention and dedication that it deserves. Generally, the development team is disconnected from the decisions and discussions that direct the objectives of the company. Scrum, however, is different. It is a technique that combines decision-making, guidance, and development. Given its importance, it is not prudent to delegate or exclude any members of the team from the Scrum sessions.
A Scrum Process Can Be Repaired If It Is Broken
The iterative nature of Scrum allows organisations to avoid investing too heavily in a concept or methodology which may ultimately prove to be unsuccessful. By taking this approach, it is possible to both rectify any mistakes that have been made and also to gradually improve the Scrum process.
It is essential to focus on the individuals and teams that you have in your organisation. As each project is unique, it is important to recognise that strict adherence to a method may not always produce the best results. The investment in your team members, both in terms of resources and in terms of fostering a positive work environment, is just as important as the process followed within the project.
Scrum’s flexibility allows for a variety of solutions to be implemented if a certain approach is not yielding the desired results. Combining elements from different Agile frameworks, as well as external sources, can provide an effective solution. It is important to remember to maintain a respectful and organised dialogue when discussing potential changes, so as to avoid any potential conflict.
The use of Scrum methodology can be beneficial for organisations in the long run, as it enables teams to develop products that meet the changing needs of customers. Not only does this approach help in avoiding investments in ideas that may not be feasible in the long run, but also enables the implementation of ideas that have potential to become successful.