Do you have right Scrum team?
With ever changing need to deliver fast and quality products, technology companies are adapting agile rather quickly. Agile being a delivery methodology, it is important to look at what are the two attributes that team should have. In my experience, there are just two attributes of team make lot of difference to success of agile. This is in reference to scrum.
- Having multi skilled team.
- Being collaborative.
The first element of team is self-explanatory. Instead of having deep and narrowly specialized people in the team it helps in having multi-skilled team. This doesn’t mean that team will never need deep specialization. In terms of architectural decisions, complex technical issues, to deal with extreme performance requirements of the product, specialized person will add value. For 95% of the remaining occasions multi skilled team works. For those 5% cases, team can depend on an external expert who is not part of the scrum team.
The second element is collaboration.
Collaboration: The origin of the word Collaboration is from latin word “collaborare” which has meaning of “work together”. Collaboration is widely used management buzz word. Unfortunately having or creating a collaborative team is not so easy. Different back grounds, languages, education, different upbringing, different cultures make it tough for people to gel with each other.
The picture shows what happens with the combination of Multi Skilled (low to high) and Collaboration (low to high).
- No Collaboration and team with single skilled people: This is the worst combination for agile to be successful. Having just one skill creates dependency. Team being non collaborative, it would be difficult for the team members to depend on each other. The leads to chaos and eventually conflicts and failures. The result is team can’t stick to sprint commitments and team velocity is not predictable.
- Collaborative but narrowly skilled team members: As the team works together through highs and lows, there can be improved understanding among each other and eventually collaboration improves. However, as the team members have skills in just one or two areas, the dependency still exists. This brings super star culture as people feel over valued for their skills. There is difference between being advanced in a skill and knowing just one skill.
- Multi skilled but non collaborative: This is an interesting situation. The team is very well equipped with various skills but they don’t work well together. This is egocentric team. Work will get done but conflicts among team members may lead to lot of management intervention and non-value add time spent in resolving the issues. Strategic decision making may take more time because each individual puts more importance to own thoughts rather than merits in others views.
- Multi skilled and collaborative: This is the sweet spot and the dream combination for any agile delivery team. Sweet spot is more apparent sports. For example, in badminton this is the area of racket that when hit by shuttle cock, produces greatest momentum. This is not just about the racket, but also movement of the player, swing of racket, force of the shot. It is the combination of all factors that makes the shot perfect. In agile teams the combination of skill and collaboration brings maximum output with minimum interventions. This is the team usually self-organized, self-motivated and self-empowered.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organization.