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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Re: Transitioning from traditional control

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  • Sarath Kummamuru
    Hi Allen, A few things I wanted to ask based on your mail. You said: - meeting grinding to a standstill. I think this is because people are used to looking at
    Message 1 of 17 , Dec 29, 2007
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      Hi Allen,

           A few things I wanted to ask based on your mail.

      You said:
      "- meeting grinding to a standstill. I think this is because people
      are used to looking at me as the catalyst for discussion and
      direction.
      - frustration building among the team members (related to the slowing
      of the meeting and lack of direction)
      - a general design/planning vacuum that no one really steps in to fill
      - resentment that I am not assigning tasks so I am wasting people's
      time because they don't know what to do"

      were some of the things that are forcing you to participate and drive the sprint planning session.

      I do understand the situation. I am based out of India and coached many teams to move to agile and see this happening very often. Esp because teams here are so used to being led. (Now that is a generalization so it not always accurate, but do find it very often, So some of the teams in India please do not start a flame on what i said ;-) )

      So my question is that while you did go ahead and defined tasks for a particular sprint. Did you ever as a team get to discuss about this behavior of the team in any of the Sprint Retrospectives? Normally with most of the teams that I coach, I suggest that the teams come up with their own ground rules. For example the team should self organize, the teams should have the daily standup at exactly the same time, so on and so forth. The ground rules are the only driving force for the team. No external Scrum practices or guidelines. If the practices or guidelines are on the ground rules, they are to be followed.

      So once this is one, "normally i would suggest the team sit together once in a while and review what they want to put in the ground rules. If there is some thing you want to suggest, preferable (esp during the initial stages) let one of the senior members of the team read up about it and let them come to the meeting to define ground rules." So it does not look like you are setting the rules always.

      So i would expect that a senior member of the team would read up about teams being Self Organizing and how to conduct Sprint planning sessions. (They will find a lot of good literature ;-) )

      Now they put these in the ground rules and that sets the tone for the Retrospectives. Now you can simply go into the retrospective, say "hey guys, we seem to be having a situation where we might be breaking a ground rule. Do you remember the sprint planning session this sprint, most of the tasks were defined by me, which is not according to the ground rule we wanted, so what do you guys think we should do!!? "

      If that does not start a discussion and points to improve for the next sprint, I think you should go in for some external coach's help ;-)

      Try doing that and do mail back if it made any difference.

      Sarath.

      On Dec 28, 2007 9:17 PM, Allen Bierbaum <abierbaum@...> wrote:

      On Dec 28, 2007 8:47 PM, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
      >
      > Allen Bierbaum wrote:
      > > Unfortunately, I am running into problems where the team is still
      > > looking to me to take the lead in creating the tasks in the sprint
      > > backlog and suggest who should work on what parts. I know that
      > > self-organizing teams still need to do this type of break down and
      > > discussion, but I feel that if I lead the discussion then people will
      > > fall into the old routine of waiting for me to assign work.
      >
      > What would happen if, during the scrum planning meeting when time came
      > to break the highest priority story down into tasks, you asked the team
      > what tasks were needed and then kept your mouth shut?

      I have tried this and the outcome is usually one or more of:

      - meeting grinding to a standstill. I think this is because people
      are used to looking at me as the catalyst for discussion and
      direction.
      - frustration building among the team members (related to the slowing
      of the meeting and lack of direction)
      - a general design/planning vacuum that no one really steps in to fill
      - resentment that I am not assigning tasks so I am wasting people's
      time because they don't know what to do

      I know this sounds very harsh, and I am probably exaggerating this a
      bit because it has to do more with my feelings about the situation.
      As you say, it is hard to not fill the silence and it is especially
      hard to see the team flounder while trying to help them transition to
      being more self-directed.

      -Allen


      >
      > Sometimes it's hard to not fill the silence.
      >
      > - George
      >
      > P.S. Don't worry about staying within the time limits when you do this.
      > Changing the behavior to a more effective pattern is a higher priority.
      >
      > --

    • mnbluesguy
      Allen, You have asked a really good set of questions. I think you have received some good suggestions. I would like to give you one that we have used to draw
      Message 2 of 17 , Jan 2, 2008
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        Allen,

        You have asked a really good set of questions. I think you have
        received some good suggestions. I would like to give you one that we
        have used to draw people into the Scrum and Agile (including myself ;-).

        As has been mentioned, sometimes people are 'gun shy' about jumping in
        with their ideas. In the past they may have made suggestions or
        presented ideas only to be shut down by someone in authority (or even
        by their peers). If this is true for the members of your team(s) you
        might want to consider the following idea.

        We often have people write their ideas on sticky notes or cards. So
        they can write down their ideas for tasks. Then you could collect
        them up and read each one off one at a time and put them on a white
        board. Clump the similar ones together. Then you can ask does that
        look like a good set of tasks for this story. If they say yes you can
        move on. If not then ask what is missing or should be removed. Give
        them a chance to talk and decide what to do.

        Over time everyone will trust each other and realize that "quality" at
        this point is doing your best to identify the work that needs to be
        done. It is unlikely you will get every task correct. But that is
        less important than getting everyone thinking about what needs to be
        done in small chunks.

        David Tannen (tannen@...)
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