Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scrum Requires Effort

It seems that many people expect Scrum to make magic happen by itself.
This is of course an illogical expectation, mostly.
It is true that Scrum (the roles, meetings and artifacts) will, with a bit of introduction, cause your team to get better without much additional effort or investment.
But the real power of Scrum comes when human energy really gets behind it.  And this does not always happen, and seldom happens if they just wait for the magic to happen.
The Scrum framework to some degree elicits that energy, but people also must be expecting to give the energy, be willing to do it, and  then actually do it.
How does this work?

1. Scrum has a subtle effect on the Team, so it becomes, a real Team.

In caring about each other and the customer, the Team works together effectively.  What I am trying to describe is a subtle but profound change in attitude by the Team.  One might say, about the work.  An attitude of full responsibility, helpfulness and fun.
There are many ways to describe this.  I fear my paragraph above is weak in comparison to the real effects that are possible.
Effort?  Well, the effort is the challenge….to change the paradigm you and your colleagues use.  This is difficult.  And no one has done it perfectly.

2. Make an impediment list, and work it.

The list comes from the Team, but the SM is making sure that someone is always working the list, whether that person or those people are inside the Team or outside the Team.
The first effort is to identify the real impediments, and put the moose on the table.
The next effort is to slice and dice the list, and order it appropriately.
Then take action on the top impediment over and over again, until the Team is ‘almost’ perfect.  The relentless pursuit of perfection takes a lot of guts to keep after.
As far as I know, there is no known limit to human improvement except that we limit ourselves.
To quote Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.”

3. The next great effort is to use metrics responsibly.

This does not, mean no metrics.  It means being critical of the metrics, and continually asking if they are accurate enough.  And are these the best metrics.

4. The final effort for today:  Using the 80-20 rule.

That is, focusing on the high value stuff (I call it the gold, platinum and diamond features) and releasing more quickly.  Then saying ‘no’ to the ‘dirt’ features, and moving on to the next mine shaft (the next product).
This takes extraordinary effort.  But it is extraordinarily valuable to everyone to do it.  This effort is led by the PO; but involves the whole Team, the business stakeholders, and others around the Team.  Typically, this notion is a huge ‘cultural transformation.’
Related to this cultural transformation is a shift from ‘doing everything at once’ ( for example, having too many projects in flight) to doing the top project ‘only’ (per team), and getting it delivered. (Similar to the Lean concept of single-piece continuous flow, but at the ‘project’ level… so companies new to this, think of it that way.)  Again, a huge but necessary transformation in so many companies I see.
Lots of effort that is NOT ‘just’ doing the Scrum framework.
Your comments please….

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