I Have a Question

I have a question!!

“I have a team that won’t self-organize.”
“ My team always selects more PBIs than they can do. The members say that the software is too complex and corrupt to finish anything.”
“My Product Owner isn’t engaged.”

What do I do??

In my Scrum classes, I ground everyone in the theory and first principles of Scrum. Why does it work? What is a complex problem? Why is short-cycle development necessary for controlling risk? What is transparency?

Then the members of the class work in teams. Case studies are given to them, starting with a context, and then the problem. The teams are asked what they would do. They work together, bringing their experience to bear, to come up with a solution.

The solution is a result of their projections of their experiences onto the problem that I gave them. Unfortunately, we are not in a live situation. They will not get to apply their problem and see if it works. They won’t be able to adjust the solution, bit by bit, empirically to continuously improve.

I am very wary of being an expert. I am even more wary of giving answers. “I have a question” require a detailed knowledge of the context, its history, and the problem. Then we can try something and see how well it works. If it is suboptimal, we can adjust it. As time marches on and it stops working, it can be adjusted again.

Forgive me for not giving quick answers. Surgeons don’t perform surgery over the phone, either (I think).

7 thoughts on “I Have a Question

  1. If a team is happy with a suggested organisation and method, and they decide to accept it as is, then they have made a decision. They then will work under that process, and will naturally start to take short-cuts and make improvements. The PDSA cycle needs a starting point, so a team’s natural inclination may be to accept some sort of accepted norm, and the process of natural iteration will ensure that they improve on the process, bit by bit (software pun intended!).

    The leadership role here is to provide the team teh space they need to make these iterative changes… This is where top management, procurement, suppliers, auditors etc. have an important job – they must not freeze the initial process in aspic. They should expect and encourage the team to change the process as they go along…

    (Great news about the Sentinel project announced by the FBI this week, by the way, I chose it as a case study in my latest book… Glad it worked out!)

  2. “I am very wary of being an expert. I am even more wary of giving answers.” I like this. It is crucial. Context is everything. This is why it is important to teach Scrum at a values and principles level first. Understanding WHY Scrum works—and that indeed it does—allows teams and individuals to apply the framework to their own problems, and stop seeking the quick fix answer. Solutions emerge when the approach embraces trust and self-organization, and when there is a willing ness to fail.

  3. Guys. I have a question. I am fairly new to Scrum and my primary role is analyst. We discussed and agreed the detail functionality among team members. A set of documents needs to be produced, as required by organisation. Towards mid of sprint, we realised that documents can’t be produced in time. Can we decide to do the documentation, in another Sprint i.e .may be have another Sprint just to complete documentation? Also can we decide to ONLY fix Critical / Higher priority defects and have another Sprint just to fix all lower priority defects?

  4. Pingback: I Have a Question | M Anthony Librizzi

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