How to work with a team that is no more than a group of people working facing himself when others see as a team?

It’s complicated.

Apparently, some elements work well, meet what is expected of them, at least that’s what they feel, and even get results. Meanwhile, there are others who are awaiting instructions and go forward at this rate. Then there are others that sink in work to be done and are desperately trying to stay afloat.

The worst thing is that neither of them realize the situation where others are. Everyone has the feeling that they are doing the best they can and continuously strive to achieve better results. Those outside do not understand it. Who is outside the team do not see results and therefore does not appreciate the effort that each of them does.

A team’s work that is not teamwork.

So what is teamwork? Good question.

There are lots of answers to that question in blogs and books around there. But what we really want to know is how to put these people working as a team and make them feel like a team.

This is one of the Scrum challenges. Any Scrum Master who may encounter such a team knows that will have much work ahead.

When the Scrum comes to such a team she needs to learn to work together before she started taking sprint commitments.

So we can start by asking them to somehow describe the tasks to be performed to develop a User Story. We ask them to do it together. The Scrum Master must move away and give them space to hold discussions with each other.

Then we ask them to estimate an effort in hours to accomplish each of the tasks. It’s not that they aren’t used to estimate, but usually do it alone. Together is different, requires negotiation with each other. The more elements the team have the more complicated will be. I think that to a maximum of four elements it is possible to a Scrum Master to move away and give them privacy to establish a connection between them. Larger teams will require a moderator.

Then let them develop the User Story, following the tasks described by them. There is no rush or commitment, just watching. They will adjust the estimates made by themselves as development occurs. The Scrum Master can help them realize where they can do better, help them to find out which aspects deserve more attention during estimation or when to detail the tasks more.

This exercise should be done over a few sprints. They will began to commit to a sprint by themselves as they feel more confident. It is not easy to understand when we move from a time when there are no commitments to a time when they start to commit.

Ameixas 4

Short sprints facilitate this learning. Personally I prefer one week sprints. Everything happens faster.

There is little room for error. There is little room for laziness. Since time is short there is a motivation to use all the time they get to create a good sprint delivery. The Scrum ceremonies are shorter. You do not get the feeling of spending endless hours in meetings. It also facilitates quick fix behaviors because we can do it right away next week.

But it can also be exhausting as the pace is faster. It requires better coordination between team members and smaller tasks.

Each team is a team and the Scrum Master should evaluate the sprint duration that best fits her team.

The most important thing is to help the team to find the best way to work together and get good results as a team.

(picture: plums from our orchard)