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Managing Self-organizing SCRUM Teams- Impetus White Paper
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For Impetus’ White Papers archive, visit- http://www.impetus.com/whitepaper ...

For Impetus’ White Papers archive, visit- http://www.impetus.com/whitepaper

The white paper introduces self-organizing teams and highlights the problems and solutions for building and sustaining these teams.

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Managing Self-organizing SCRUM Teams- Impetus White Paper Document Transcript

  • 1. Managing Self-OrganizingScrum TeamsW H I T E P A P E RAbstractThis white paper from Impetus Technologies talks about self-organization in Scrum, one of the most popular and widely usedAgile methodologies.It discusses how Scrum encourages the creation of self-organized, empowered teams where the team members havemore freedom vis-à-vis the traditional environment. At the sametime, the white paper also focuses on how with Scrum, leaders atall levels have a challenge to balance this freedom with the needfor predictable outcomes.The white paper introduces self-organizing teams and highlightsthe problems and solutions for building and sustaining theseteams.Impetus Technologies Inc.www.impetus.com
  • 2. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams2Table of ContentsIntroduction...........................................................................................................3Challenges associated with building self-organizing teams...................................3Inertia.................................................................................................................4Different personality types................................................................................4Personality clashes within the team..................................................................4Distributed teams ..............................................................................................5Multi-organizational teams................................................................................5Challenges associated with managing self-organizing teams...............................7Participation of all team members in Scrum events is time consuming ...........7Scrum has no traditional measurement and reporting systems .......................8Low accountability of Team Masters.................................................................8Loss of control of stakeholders and key executives over the team...................9Selecting the right Scrum Masters.....................................................................9Summary..............................................................................................................10
  • 3. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams3IntroductionScrum advocates self-managed teams. The team members of Scrum projectsexpect autonomy and a higher degree of freedom. The self-organizing team isone of the challenging concepts in Scrum. All the practices/events that Scrummandates need to be run by the team members themselves, rather than by theleader, and this can prove to be problematical.The Scrum teams are empowered and participate actively and collectively in allactivities. The Product Owners usually explain to the Scrum teams what isrequired in the next sprint, and the teams work out details such as who willwork on what, as well as, how much time is needed, and consequentially, howmuch work can be taken up in a particular sprint.The detailing, and planning is undertaken by the teams, and the Scrum Mastersare there to help them, if required. In that sense, technically, the Scrum teamsare ‘self-directed,’ as opposed to ‘controlled from the top.’The biggest factor responsible for building and maintaining self-organizingteams is a sharing and learning environment and there is more learning herethan in a traditional scenario. Scrum recommends that people within the teaminteract and share their learning and knowledge with each other. This way, theycontinue to learn from peers and seniors account of the proximity and bonding.Scrum brings together a team with different exposure levels, experience andbackgrounds and encourages bonding through frequent interactions. In asituation for instance, where one member is unavailable due to an emergency,another is likely to come forward and volunteer to do that person’s tasks onaccount of the team bond and the shared commitment to the sprint goals. Thisis made easy by the fact that team members are aware of the tasks assigned totheir peers.
  • 4. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams4Challenges Associated with BuildingSelf-Organizing TeamsThere are several difficulties related to building self-organizing Scrum teams.These are:InertiaOrganizations may be tempted to decide not to let go off the practices theyfollowed in the traditional methodology; thereby, adopting a watered-downversion of Scrum.Our recommendationImpetus recommends that the leaders and decision makers do not give in tosuch temptation, and instead understand the reasons why Scrum is insistingon these rules and explain them to all concerned. They also need tomandate that all the rules and guidelines be followed consistently.Different personality typesIn the workplace, there are different kinds of people—loners, who prefer towork on their keyboards all day without surfacing for meetings or otherinteractions with colleagues—and the social team members, who can spendendless hours interacting, discussing and comparing notes with co-workers.Similarly it is possible to have aggressive people, as well as passive people inone single team.Our recommendationTherefore, while building the team, leaders should pay attention to thepersonality types they are bringing into the mix. They must avoid havingsimilar kind of people, but at the same time, also look at how they can bringtogether people with different dispositions.At the same time, bringing together people with extreme temperamentsmay have an adverse effect on team productivity and morale. According toImpetus, leaders may need to shuffle teams multiple times to find the bestteam composition.Personality clashes within the teamThe Scrum teams are cross-functional, which implies that the developers,testers, technical writers, etc. have to work closely. In this scenario, teammembers who have previously worked on non-Scrum projects may bringwith them their old prejudices and notions. This can potentially createclashes. Sometimes, developers and testers in a Scrum team find it difficultto work with each other as they still expect the work to be handed over to
  • 5. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams5them in a formal manner. The intimacy and speed that Scrum insists on justdoes not leave room for such luxuries.Another issue is that in Scrum, all the team members are called developers,irrespective of their roles. Therefore, though there are test engineers fortesting the code or technical writers for documentation, there is nodemarcation by way of separate titles. Everyone is treated the same and iscalled by the same name. Though this is a good practice for creating bondswithin the team, it may also challenge the identity of some roles.Our recommendationIn order to overcome personality clashes, Scrum itself insists on doing awaywith the numerous hierarchical layers within the organization, and adoptinga relatively flat structure.Distributed teamsIn an ideal scenario, the Scrum teams get the maximum benefit of a closeinteraction if they are co-located. However multi-location teams are areality today. While they pose special challenges, it is possible to overcomethem and encourage smooth and transparent interactions within the teams.In case of multi-location teams within the same organization, the problemsare easily addressed as the organization culture, practices and managementis the same across the locations.Our recommendationHowever, to facilitate seamless interaction within multi-locational teams,organizations must provide for high-quality communication infrastructure. Itwould also make sense to have people travel and spend time with theirteam-members at other locations.The situation can be further improved by encouraging informal interactionamong team members that go beyond task discussions. They can just chatabout common interests over and above work, such as sports, families,children, etc. This practice actually facilitates the building of rapport andempathy. The more Scrum Masters encourage a common shared language,the easier becomes the flow of communication.Multi-organizational teamsIn offshore software development, occasionally the Scrum teams may beconstituted by multiple service vendors. In this case, the teams aredistributed not only across locations but also through organizations,cultures and time zones, therefore increasing the problems.
  • 6. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams6Scrum says that the Product Owners are the only people accountable andresponsible for managing the product backlogs. This of course, necessitatestheir close interaction with the teams. The challenge comes in when theProduct Owners and the teams belong to different organizations or cultures.Since the Product Owners are the ones sharing the project requirementsand the priorities with the teams, they need to be available as and whenrequired. In addition, when there are people from multiple organizationsand different work cultures involved in projects, facilitating propercommunication is of prime importance.Our recommendationApart from following all the Best Practices of inter-cultural communication,it is imperative to encourage openness and tolerance to different ways ofworking. Impetus suggests that the Scrum Masters act as proxy ProductOwners as they are close to the teams and well aware of their needs.This does not mean however, that the Scrum Masters will have theauthority to prioritize the product backlog items. It just implies that thesepeople will act as bridges between the teams and the Product Owners.Impetus has seen this solution work in many of its projects.
  • 7. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams7Challenges Associated with ManagingSelf-Organizing TeamsWhile building self-organizing teams is difficult, sustaining them is even tougher.Some of the typical challenges cited in managing such teams are as follows:Participation of all team members in Scrum events is time consumingOne of the most common arguments against having all team membersparticipating in important Scrum events are that it can be time consuming,thereby impacting the productivity of individual team members. However,experience shows that collective participation in sprint planning meetingscan actually help team productivity.Sprint planning meetings are the time when the teams go into the details ofthe product backlog items proposed by the Product Owners for the comingsprint. Though it may appear that it would be more efficient to carry out thisactivity in a smaller group, the collective participation of all team-membersfacilitates enhanced knowledge sharing. The teams can eventually come upwith much better estimations and plans.Our recommendationAccording to Impetus, preparing for the sprint planning meetings, where theteams can start their orientation process by gathering pertinent informationand requirements from the Product Owners or business analysts is a must.The planning meetings get everyone on the same page and facilitateawareness and understanding. Furthermore, having all people present andaware about the tasks they have to achieve can be useful in case a particularteam-member is not available.Another factor is that user stories are very rarely independent. There issome connection, some dependency, and some interrelation all the time. Insuch cases, having a bigger picture of what other people have to do, and theideal outcome of the user story, helps immensely.The learning and exposure that team members get by actively participatingin all the events considerably reduces the rework and delays. It also enablesthem to take proactive decisions and actions. This results in higherproductivity.
  • 8. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams8Scrum has no traditional measurement and reporting systemsScrum does not require status reports or measurements. It says that thework remaining and date of review are the only variables of interest butthey must be religiously updated every day. However, leaders coming infrom non-Scrum backgrounds tend to be uncomfortable with the absence ofexhaustive measurement systems and detailed status reports. This does notmean that there is a lack of information pertaining to the current projectstatus. It is just that it is not available in the format that leaders areaccustomed to. Rather than the information coming to the leaders as statusreports, they have to go and actively seek it out.Our recommendationScrum encourages a high level of visibility and transparency. The dailyupdated sprint backlog contains the current status, whereas the burn-downchart gives out the early warning signals. Incidentally, it can also be used toensure that the team completes the tasks within the stipulated time frame.The intermediate review of deliverables as and when they are available alsohelps in gauging whether the project is on the right track.Low accountability of Team MastersScrum says that the selection of product backlogs for the sprint is solely thework of the development team, and not an individual or any externalstakeholder. It also mandates that Scrum Masters ensure that thedevelopment teams have a daily standup meeting, though they do notconduct the same. Essentially, the role of the Scrum Masters is very limitedin terms of accountability.Scrum states that it is the team that is accountable for any mistakes, andnot a single individual. This can potentially develop into a very seriousproblem.Our recommendationThe solution to this lies in ensuring that team members identify with theteam and consider themselves as part of a unit. They must consider theteam’s success as their individual success and the team’s failure as theirown failure.Active and collective participation by all members in all the team events iscritical to create this bonding. Though the team is likely to forego this veryimportant practice, the management should firmly support it.The daily standup meetings and the sprint-end reviews and retrospectivemeetings should be effectively used to curb the practice of passing the buck.Blame-games should be discouraged in order to build the right culture from
  • 9. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams9the start itself.Also, the Scrum Masters need to identify the weakest links within the teamsand get them in line with the other team members. If required, they caneven rotate them outside the team.Loss of control of stakeholders and key executives over the teamScrum provides a well-protected and secure environment for the team towork in. It says that self-organizing teams must choose the best ways towork. And though people outside the team may share their well-meaningadvice, the teams ultimately have to decide what makes sense to them andwhy.Though this can be highly empowering for the team members, it may alsolead to external stakeholders feeling a loss of control over the teams as theyare accustomed to telling the project teams what to do, and by when.The problems arise when the external stakeholders are comparativelysenior in terms of experience and designation vis-à-vis the Scrum teammembers and do not take well to their suggestions getting bypassed.Our recommendationThe solution lies in bringing about a mindset change among the externalstakeholders by explaining to them how freeing and empowering the teamscan pay rich dividends in the long run. They are likely to feel morecomfortable when they know that there are no risks on the way to sprintsuccess. They can refer to the daily updated sprint backlogs and theaccompanying burn-down charts. Armed with this information, they cancarry out intermediate reviews with the Product Owners.Selecting the right Scrum MastersScrum Masters are considered servant leaders by Scrum. Scrum places lowimportance on the top down hierarchy, giving greater autonomy andfreedom to the team. Scrum Masters no longer have the benefit of theirstatus and respect that automatically comes in with their position. Theyhave to earn it by serving the team, and that completely changes the focusof their work. A self-organized team takes over a lot of their traditionalwork of planning and monitoring, whether it relates to the tasks or people.They are now free to use their time to help team members developthemselves. They can also contribute to the progress of the projects byusing their experience and reaching out to team members and solving theproblems that hold up their work. They can enjoy the close bonds that theybuild with team members, not because of their status, but rather due totheir role as guides and facilitators.
  • 10. Managing self-organizing Scrum teams10It is important to point out that this does not mean that the position of theScrum Masters is any less important. They can now add a lot more value,not just to the team and the Product Owners, but also to theirorganizations.Our recommendationThe challenge emerges if the people chosen to be Scrum Masters areuncomfortable with their new role and have different expectations from thepeople around. If the people come from a command and control culture,they will find it quite tough to adjust in the Scrum project. As a result, thewhole project can suffer.Therefore, it is very important to choose the right people to be the ScrumMasters.SummaryThe Scrum practice has defined the rules for Scrum teams to follow and allowedthem to choose their own operational strategies. Following prescribed Scrumrules makes things more efficient and disciplined. Altering these rules mayprovide short-term gains, but may result in disadvantages in the longer run.About ImpetusImpetus is a Software Solutions and Services Company with deeptechnical maturity that brings you thought leadership, proactiveinnovation, and a track record of success. Our Services and Solutionsportfolio includes Carrier grade large systems, Big Data, Cloud,Enterprise Mobility, and Test and Performance Engineering.Website: www.impetus.com | Email: inquiry@impetus.com© 2013 Impetus Technologies, Inc.All rights reserved. Product andcompany names mentioned hereinmay be trademarks of theirrespective companies. May 2013