Change on Your Team

How do you get a change on your team to do things more efficiently, even though the team can’t quite see how it will benefit?

A former student, now a friend (when someone knows your favorite drink is Cafe Americano, then you’re officially friends), called me up the other day to ask a great question. He’s a solid ScrumMaster that gets it, but not all of his team members do. Now, I don’t mean to say that they don’t get Scrum. They’re doing the framework right. But it’s not just about the framework – it’s going for the values and principles that it enables – continuous improvement, individuals and interactions, small batch sizes and single-piece flow. And that is what he was after.

His conundrum (I’ve been wanting to use that word in my blog for years) was that he has distributed team members, some developers who would rather do development than test, and a lead/Product Owner who kind of specifies how the items should be built (rather than self-organizing team members enabling the best designs and architectures). Anyone else have any of these?
So, the problem is that the team isn’t hitting their planned velocity very often nor getting that close to it. They’re performing well, but consistently say “We’ll get 70 points done this sprint,” but end up with 40. They’re okay with that, pointing out that they couldn’t have gotten the remaining stories down because they were in Testing’s hands. The devs don’t help with testing because it doesn’t make economic sense (their hourly rate is higher than QA), and instead they move on to future stories not in the sprint plan.
My friend tried explaining why commitment and predictability and team work are important. No change. He tried putting other videos and blogs on the topic in front of them. Nada. He tried talking to management. Special delivery of…jack squat. As a ScrumMaster, a servant leader, he knows that he can’t make them do anything. He can only influence. So he was looking for other ways to do that.
Looking for opportunities to create success and point others to real results, I asked if anyone on his team was interested in trying out what he recommended. There were. Was there different features or aspects of products in the backlog? Yep. So, we made a plan to tag the related items and ask that the interested team members pull items in one theme, and the others can pull anything else. Each sprint, he’ll track how the new practices of smaller stories, more pairing and swarming actually work. The whole team will see this, and he’ll have real numbers for outside support as well.
I got off the phone call excited to here how it goes for him and his team, and perhaps I’ll get to hear about it over an Americano next time we’re face-to-face.

3 Critical Decisions for

Agile Transformation Success

Potentially save your company and career by discovering…