Management Scrum Team – Part 2

Part 2.  (See here for Part 1.)

Now, the work of the Sprint needs to be defined in small ‘stories.’ To me, for two weeks, eight stories for a team of seven is about small enough.

Team. Did I mention that this is and should be a cross-functional and multi-functional team? The ‘people’ within the MS Team are all about the team accomplishing the team goal(s)! So, we are expecting the people in (parts of) the MST to help each other. We expect multiple people (parts) to typically work on each story.

Done. We also expect the stories in the Sprint (the work of the MST) to be ‘completed’ by the end of the Sprint, and to be a ‘working product’ that can at least be ‘inspected’ by someone independent (e.g., some independent business stakeholders). The BSHs should look at it and say, “This is good; customers are really gonna want this stuff.” Or, at least, this is the feedback we want at the end of the Sprint, on each and every story. The truth is we often learn that the BSHs are not happy with a couple of stories (that had seemed to be ‘working’). And, the bad news does not get worse with age. (Each failure is an opportunity to learn.)

So, each story must be demo-ed at the end of the Sprint.

Writing small stories that can be demo-ed is a new art for the MST people.  Well, they can write stories that will never be demoed (Sorry! I mean stories that can be demoed after they have left the company…. Sorry!  I meant stories that can be demoed in five years).  [Too much sarcasm? Sorry.]  But, seriously, writing stories that can be completed and demoed in two weeks is hard for them at first, because they have never done it before.  If you have never done something, in fact it usually feels impossible!  It is not impossible at all, but they probably will feel like it is.  These are tough guys to coach.

Remember that ‘completed’ requires that you have a good ‘Definition of Done‘ and that always includes some ‘verification and validation’ by a competent and independent V&V person. With software, we call this well-tested by a good QA person. This also is trouble for the MST people, since they have never done this before, usually. Or they have never made transparent what they do or don’t do for V&V.

Daily Scrums. Daily. Any questions? I mean, seriously, can there be any question?

A 15-minute stand-up where each person answers the three questions.

You will hear some lame excuses about why they can’t attend or did not attend.

‘I have another meeting at that time.’  

‘A customer called.’  

‘The President of the U.S. wants to see me in five minutes.’  

You can’t make this stuff up. Honestly, some of these ‘distractions’ are important, but the root cause: They do not think the team is important and they have forgotten how to work as a team. They do not see how the team is going to help their career.

Jon Defriese thinks this is because the leader (in our case, the CEO), has not established the right culture. Often the leader has not dealt well enough with these issues in his or her own head.

In any case: Daily Scrum. Daily. Answering the three questions. Slightly rephrased.

  • What did I (or my home team) do yesterday that helped the MS Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • What will I (or my home team) do today to help the MS Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • Do I (or my home team) see any impediment(s) that prevents me or the home team from meeting the Sprint Goal (of the MS Team)?

‘No impediments’ is almost never a reasonable answer. Unless the people are perfect and the situation around them is also perfect. Rarely does this happen. Anything that slows them down from a perfect and fast delivery (of any story) of the highest value is an impediment.

Also, they need to tell each other the truth at the Daily Scrums. (Stop that laughing! We are serious here.) Also, not make ‘political’ statements, and then help each other.

Seriously, it can be tough to coach this team at first. Often they have totally forgotten how to work together with any team, and especially each other. Some of you have a better culture; so if you have that case, be mindful when a new person joins the MST — often he or she comes from a company with a very different culture. Give that person some time and some coaching to adjust.

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Part 3 is next.

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2 thoughts on “Management Scrum Team – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Management Scrum Team - Part 1 - Lean Agile Training

  2. JIm Dowling

    This is a continuation from my previous post. You might want to read that one first. Two things prove helpful with Stories using our method. First and most valuable is to start by defining Done. E.g., “We will have the capability of delivering 100,000 units per week to a customer anywhere in the continental United States.” This is a huge step for most leaders with respect to Strategy. Usually, they leave it at some percentage sales growth for a number of products and customer groups. They soon see that giving this one Story into a Sprint with representation by all participating leaders can yield a set of coordinated next-level Capabilities in less than four weeks. Subsequent Sprints deliver plans, actions and results. Feedback from organizations that have used this method often refer to four advantage over previous methods: “We work together better;” “We understand the Strategy better;” “We identify risks and bad assumptions quicker;” and “We have more energy to grab another Capability and build it out when we deliver one.”

    Re: Daily Scrums: We hold them with a phone call and a Wiki or Blog follow up because our teams are mostly distributed across towns, states and countries. We do require confirmation of participation in the Wiki or Blog and the Scrum Master does take corrective actions through the Product Owner.

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