How to Get Started with Scrum on a Team

How to Get Started with Scrum on a Team

Today we want to talk about what to do as you get started with Scrum on a team. There are a couple of key pieces I want to share about this and then we’ll roll through a couple of case studies. The main things we’re looking for as we get started with Scrum on a team, sitting on the relational side more than, say, the process side is ‘Where is everyone at with this?’

Talk with Team Members

“What have you heard about Scrum and Agile? What do you think about this?” That might come out in the training as we ask questions, but certainly, we want to have some pre-thought, because if we simply tell the team, “You’re going to be doing Scrum,” and we never stop to ask them what they think about it, you might find some resistance. Consider that as you talk to them.

The first thing we want to do is look at one-on-ones with them, and some of the key roles ,such as, ScrumMaster or Product Owner, or maybe go through the whole process of how do we identify and choose a ScrumMaster, or a Product Owner.

We had one situation where we came in and said, “Everyone’s going to be doing Scum and Agile. Here’s your training. Get going.” Now, they didn’t have support in the form of coaching or follow-up really, so as we came back later on for additional training, we asked questions about how those other teams were doing. They were not doing well. There’d been a couple of misunderstandings about what they were supposed to do, both from the training and the lack of follow-up Management had little understanding. Management did not go through training.

Culture will Eat Strategy for Breakfast

Get Started with Scrum on a Team. Culture will eat strategy for breakfast.
Culture will eat strategy for breakfast.

In some ways, as they say, “Culture will eat strategy for breakfast.” You can go through your training, but if no one else is getting involved, and support is

not there, then we’ll roll back at times in the process. In this case, the team was reverting back to form. They were continuing to let things back into the sprints that weren’t protected. Management was pushing work down on them still. The ScrumMaster wasn’t behaving the way we would like to see them behave, and didn’t have any connection to community or other ScrumMasters, or any support in any way, to learn that and get better. They thought they’d gone through training, that was all that they needed.

We had other challenges, like a product owner who was AWOL. They were just not around. Technically, you could say you’re doing Scrum and check the box. But, if you feel like, “I don’t think it’s going really well,” it could be any number of these things. Without support from learning from the community or others that you would go to, or from coaching, you might struggle some. That was a team that did not do so well.

Have those Clarifying Conversations up Front

We also had great success with meeting with folks up front, talking with them and saying, “What does this look like for you?” If you already have coaches that are there talking to them. Or, you have a relationship with these folks. You can have those conversations up front before you get started with Scrum on a team to find out, “What’s the team after? Are we approaching Scrum as a win for them, as well? And, a better insight of who might be the ScrumMaster or Product Owner, that’s going to be a good fit and a great kick start for them.”

Commonly, what we like to do, is go through, not just training for the ScrumMaster or Product Owner, but training for the whole team. Not only to baseline them, but unearth all these questions. I honestly want to deal with their issues and concerns and get their buy-in and support. Personally, I like to do a personality assessment as well, just as DISC, Myers/Briggs, Strengths Finder, for better understanding. Here we are, getting ready to kick off these teams as being self-organizing and self-managing, but what guidance did we give them in that area? And, if I was to ask you, would you guess that these people in these Scrum teams are more likely as developers and QA to be introverts or extroverts? What would you guess? On the introvert side, so perhaps they need a little help on, “What does it look like to be on the self-organizing team and do that?” So, that would be a big help to you, as well.

Follow up with Coaching

Secondly, besides just the training, if we can follow up with coaching, or get all the ScrumMasters talking to other. That would be a good win, as well. In this case, this team was talking to other teams, as well. The ScrumMasters would get together for lunch, every other week. The company itself was doing monthly brown bags and sharing learning out as well. And, these folks were involved in the local community, so they’re hearing other stories and learning from them as well. That was a big help with them.

Because of personalities, the team had a real jump start on who they were and how they played, and who would make the best ScrumMaster. Honestly, when you have some of those key factors in place, in this case with this team, they took off like a rocket. They were doing great stuff, very flexible, very much of a team spirit. They went through that storming, forming, norming, performing phases really well. Partly, we had a good setup with training for everyone; clear support kicking them off, and following up with their retrospective with some coaching. That might be a good way to get started, and that’s a case that we saw was tremendously successful.

Consider those factors as you get started with Scrum on a team level.

We can Help you Get Started with Scrum on a Team:

We have a one hour course on Front Row Agile, our version of Agile 101 for Teams (An Intro to Scrum and Agile) worth 1 SEU. “I will give you  and your team enough information to baseline everyone, and let you get going with Scrum and Agile: what it means to be Agile, what Scrum is and how it is Agile, the roles and the meetings in Scrum, and the underpinnings and requirements of Scrum.”

Onsite Private Training or Coaching

As always, if your company needs help with organizational change, agile adoption, or Scrum methodology, click on the training link and contact us to set up a consultation.

For information on implementing agile practices see:

How to Get Management Support for Agile with Scrum Methodology

How to Get Started with Scrum at my Company

Enterprise Agile Transformation – SDOC 2015 Keynote – Ed Kraay and Stas Zvinyatskovsky of Yahoo! at Scrum Day Orange County

3 Critical Decisions for

Agile Transformation Success

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