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3437Re: question regarding muliple projects against a small team

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  • David A Barrett
    May 7, 2004
      >With Scrum, don't we always commit, as individuals, to specific work
      >at the beginning of the Sprint?


      I think this boils down to a chicken and pigs thing, as usual. If you have
      a set of goals which are individually owned, then basically the entire team
      becomes a group of chickens for each of goals to which they haven't
      individually committed.

      For me, one of the big, big wins we've had with Scrum has been the growth
      of the team aspect. It took the team members a little while to get used to
      the idea of not have personal "ownership" of the goals. They do still tend
      to organize themselves to carve the tasks up between themselves, but their
      individual commitments to complete the work on time are to the other team
      members, not to the customers. This seems to be central point of the
      scrums, the team members are reporting to each other about how they are
      doing, and they listen to each others reports subjectively from the context
      of protecting the shared team commitment to the customer. They are happy
      to reogranize the work, put aside, redefine or modify the appraoch to some
      goals or whatever it takes to keep things on track without worrying too
      much about who's actually doing the work (from a point of view that kind of

      The result, that I've seen, is that the team members are 1000% happier with
      the way that things work. They are involved at all levels of planning,
      designing, organizing, programming and testing and problem solving. They
      make their own (joint) decisions and they are all pumped up about all the
      stuff that they are producing, even if they as individuals had very little
      to do with a particular deliverable. At the same time, the stuff they are
      producing is spectacular, and it is so tightly focused on *actual* customer
      needs its a little scary.

      I've looked at your spreadsheet, and I see how it tends to put the focus on
      the individual team members' performance. Personally, I think that is
      unnecessary. With shared commitments, the team tends to tacitly put
      pressure on each team member to excel, and the only real progress indicator
      that matters is combined burndown for all of the tasks. If the burndown
      doesn't look good, then it is the team's problem to solve and, in my short
      experience, they will solve it.

      One last thing. I noticed that a lot of the stuff that Ken talked about in
      the ScrumMaster course was very similar to the stuff talked about in the
      classic book, "The One Minute Manager". I've been on a couple of
      leadership/mentoring courses since then, and I've been surprised out how
      nicely these concepts dovetail with the Scrum philosophy on teamwork.

      Dave Barrett,
      Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company
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