The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.
I recently attended a webinar hosted by Scrum company Danube Technologies. The session, called “Definition of Done: An Organizational Perspective,” was led by Dr. Dan Rawsthorne, PhD, one of Danube’s Certified Scrum Trainers. Over the course of an hour, Rawsthorne discussed creating and revising acceptance criteria for various kinds of user stories and how those stories can be used as standardized templates as well as an educational tool within a Scrum organization. In all, it was a great webinar; Rawsthorne clearly speaks from years of experience.
Sound like something you, your team, or your company could benefit from? Check out the entire list of special event webinars offered by Danube. They’re free and always hosted by a Certified Scrum Trainer. There’s a chunk of time at the end reserved for questions and, importantly, there’s no sales pitch. Highly recommended.Tags:
One of the biggest reasons the Scrum framework works so well is through the role of the ScrumMaster, an individual whose time is dedicated to ensuring a team’s ability to deliver on its sprint promises remains unobstructed. The ScrumMaster achieves this in a number of ways, such as by reminding the team to adhere to the Scrum process and keeping the Product Owner informed about how development is going. But, above all, the ScrumMaster is charged with removing impediments that prevent a team from completing the work it has negotiated for a given sprint. This can literally be anything from replacing a broken PC to mediating a disagreement between two developers. If it’s keeping the team from moving forward, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to eliminate the impediment.
But what about situations when the ScrumMaster is the impediment? As Vikas Hazrati of InfoQ observes, it’s a scenario faced by many Scrum and agile teams, especially offshore installations where cultural hierarchy and traditional communication strategies complicate the process even further. But, as many CSTs have countered, when the ScrumMaster is creating an additional impediment for the team, there’s likely a greater degree of dysfunction lurking elsewhere that is manifesting itself in the ScrumMaster role. Usually, it means that traditional, command-and-control management techniques are still dominating the organization, even if the outward effort is to become more agile or abide by the rules of Scrum. For instance, if the ScrumMaster is committing to work on behalf of the team, acting as a proxy for the Product Owner, or actively managing the team (instead of respecting the ScrumMaster role’s lack of authority), Scrum’s distribution of authority and responsibilities are being broken. And when that happens, Scrum’s potential to deliver value is undermined, as well.
Do you encounter ScrumMasters at your organization who seem to do the opposite of what their role demands? If so, what are the reasons you suspect these ScrumMasters are failing to remove impediments, etc.? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.Tags: Scrum Basics
One of the most common refrains in the agile and Scrum industry is that implementing those new processes is both hard and disruptive. By now, no one should be surprised to find out that there’s pain in changing—especially in situations in which groups of people are asked to dramatically revise the way they’ve always worked. But in an InfoQ story by Vikas Hazrati, Dave Nicolette reveals his experiences with Scrum and agile adoption, which suggest that a successful transformation is even harder than we all thought.
Many consider the creation of a single, functioning Scrum pilot team to be the big hump to get over during initial implementation. But according to Nicolette, that doesn’t necessarily mean an organization is out of the woods. As he explains, it’s not uncommon for a pilot team to be broken up to begin additional teams, which can often undermine the chemistry of the original team and fail to translate throughout the organization. In other scenarios, a pilot team may simply revert to old habits as soon as an on-site consultant leaves.
In Nicolette’s view, the two main reasons that pilots fail to stick at an organization are:
- “Local process optimization – The pilot teams were separate from rest of the organization. They were working in isolation from rest of the organization and as soon as the pilot was over that ripple in the ocean faded away. The changes were carried on too much at a local level to cause any amount of friction in rest of the organization.
- “Insensitivity to emotional factors – The consultants ignored the support of individuals and departments who would have been instrumental in the sustained success of the effort. As a result of this as soon as the consultants left, these support groups rallied together to get into the earlier way of working.”
That’s some good food for thought—and possibly a way to help your pilot team lead the entire organization toward a successful Scrum or agile adoption.Tags:
Scrum Training Series
- Do you REALLY want to learn Scrum? Try a 3.1-day CSM class with case studies. July 25, 2013
- Scrum based funding model – 20 percent May 9, 2013
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- The Next Big Idea March 5, 2013
- On Being Available February 17, 2013