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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Coaching advice: team seeming to lack a sense of urgency

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  • Simon Kirk
    Well, there wasn t really much of a team back when they started using it: there were two of them, plus me. I asked them to try it, and at the time was their
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 24, 2009
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      Well, there wasn't really much of a team back when they started using it: there were two of them, plus me.

      I asked them to try it, and at the time was their Scrum Master, rather than more outside the team than I am now. As with all changes I try to introduce, I asked them to try it and see if it worked for us, rather than dictate it. Feedback was good, so we stayed with it.

      Since then they've gained 3 new members over the last 1.5 years, including a different Scrum Master about 6 months ago, when I stopped being their full-time SM. So I don't feel like it was forced upon them.

      I'd ask "why do you ask", but I think I know the answer. I don't feel like this is rebellion against Scrum. I may be wrong, but my experience with the individuals of the team and of the team as a whole is that they like working within Scrum's framework.

      As others have alluded to already, it's entirely possible that they've become reliant on their SM to update their burndowns etc. All well and good. But surely the more pressing question is why given what appears to be a glaringly obvious lack of progress they appear unconcerned, given they have a good team cohesion, a strong Sprint goal and historically have worked hard for each other to meet that goal?

      Which does rather lead to Ilja's entirely correct question, which I haven't been able to ask the team as a whole yet (it was the end of the day and the SM wasn't in at all). But I thought I'd ask here for some ideas so I can back such a question up with more forethought.


      On 24 Feb 2009, at 23:28, <quinton@...> wrote:

      Did this team ASK to go to Scrum, or was it forced upon them from outside?

      --- iljapreuss@... wrote:

      From: Ilja Preuß <iljapreuss@...>
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Coaching advice: team seeming to lack a sense of urgency
      Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2009 00:14:56 +0100

      "I don't want anything except the team to be able to meet their

      Then perhaps you should ask them - "do you feel you will be able to
      meet your commitment?"


      2009/2/24, Simon Kirk <scrum@...>:
      > Hi Ron.
      > On 24 Feb 2009, at 21:58, Ron Jeffries wrote:
      >> Hello, Simon. On Tuesday, February 24, 2009, at 1:03:02 PM, you
      >> wrote:
      >>> The thing that's really worrying me though is that for three days of
      >>> the Sprint now, progress has been almost non-existant. No stories
      >>> completed and barely any hours burned down (the team chose to go back
      >>> to using hour-based tasks written up on their story-point sized
      >>> stories: so let's not get into any don't-use-tasks sidetracks here :)
      >> Yes, and my pants are on fire and don't give me any crap about not
      >> washing them in gasoline.
      > Roasted nuts anybody? :)
      > The team are open to experiment so I wasn't about to tell them "no,
      > don't use hours". We still track stories finished as a burn up on the
      > same chart as the traditional Scrum hourly burn down, and we keep the
      > stories small (normally about the size of a day to a day and a half,
      > judged against the team's historical story point velocity).
      > So I didn't see how this might a root cause of what I've written
      > about. Judging by below, you disagree, so I apologise for my
      > assumption that it wouldn't be.
      >>> Now, if I was a developer on this team, I would now be jumping up and
      >>> down in alarm at how we didn't seem to be progressing at all.
      >>> Instead,
      >>> by way of example, today when the team's actual Scrum Master was off
      >>> sick, the team carried happily along. They didn't update their burn-
      >>> down, though they did do a Stand Up. They did update their task
      >>> board,
      >>> though the update amounted to showing they'd burned down a couple of
      >>> hours (this in a team of 4 people, excluding the SM).
      >> Are hours what you want? If so, why? If not, why are you measuring
      >> them?
      > I don't want anything except the team to be able to meet their
      > commitment. These are the hours remaining on tasks (a-la "out of the
      > box" Scrum) as estimated by the team, so are an indicator of progress
      > in the same way that story progression across the task board is.
      > So I don't think I'm personally measuring them at all. I think the
      > team are using them to track progress towards completing their Sprint
      > goal.
      > I'm using my experience to judge the tools they're using (the Sprint
      > burndown and the task board) about their progress.
      > As it happens here there appears to be no progress (judging by my
      > experience), but the team don't seem concerned: therefore I am. I may
      > be wrong to be concerned, so I'm trying to figure out (with your help)
      > whether I should be concerned and if so what way to approach helping
      > the team.
      >>> When I noticed at the end of the day that the burn-down hadn't been
      >>> updated (my bad, I should have noticed sooner), the most senior guy
      >>> on
      >>> the team, who does understand the mechanics of Scrum, said "actually,
      >>> I didn't even think of it".
      >>> So, I'm wondering how to approach this from a coaching perspective. I
      >>> have already made a mental note to talk to the team tomorrow and ask
      >>> them how I could help them, and how they think they ought to progress
      >>> now, from a Scrum point of view.
      >>> I also I think if the SM hadn't been ill today she would have flagged
      >>> it, but to be honest the lack of progress after just two days was
      >>> fairly apparent, while the lack of the team seeming to be bothered
      >>> about that lack of progress was, too.
      >>> If anybody has any activities or team games I could use to try and
      >>> make the team appreciate the value of feedback and honesty: not just
      >>> to the PO but to each other, that would be great. Any practical
      >>> suggestions for this particular situation would also be well
      >>> received.
      >> How long is your Sprint?
      > 2 weeks.
      >> Tell use about the standup meetings:
      >> What did you get DONE yesterday?
      >> What will you get DONE today?
      >> What's in your way?
      >> What is actually happening in those meetings?
      > Well, I think you've gone to the meat of things there: not much
      > appears to be getting DONE, and the impediments aren't getting
      > reported. The way the Stand-ups are not all that dysfunctional: plenty
      > of open dialogue, with longer things being put aside until after the
      > stand-up, regular times and all the team gets involved.
      > So the question I know you'd probably ask then is "why aren't things
      > getting done or impediments getting reported". I think that's more or
      > less the question I have for the team, but I'm wondering whether I
      > should ask such a direct question?
      > Going back to your point at the top, I still don't see how (assuming
      > our stories are reasonably sized, that assumption may be false for
      > this Sprint) hourly task breakdowns are the root cause, despite that I
      > personally prefer not to use them.
      >> Let's face it. If what you want done is stories, tracking tasks
      >> isn't measuring what you care about.
      > Yes, again personally I agree, but see my experimentation point above.
      >> How much work is in a story? Why isn't it smaller?
      > I think I answered this above, too, but for the record, about a day to
      > a day and a half, on average. Or at least, they're estimated that way,
      > but they seem to be not getting Done this Sprint.
      >> If it were my team I'd be considering:
      >> 1. Abort the Sprint;
      >> 2. Plan a one-week Sprint with one story,
      >> possibly one of the already existing ones
      >> that aren't really done;
      >> 3. Get it done.
      > Yes, me too. Before I took such drastic action though I wanted to try
      > to get some answers without coming across as kicking too much butt.
      > Personally I'd take such an approach without asking a few questions
      > first as a potentially unfair assumption of basic crap performance, if
      > I was in the team members' places.
      > Cheers,
      > Simon
      > [|]
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