Monday, December 19, 2011

Zero day – what a fantastic start...

Its Monday and today was my first official day as a scrum master. I had great fun! In the morning I had my first encounter with different people from management around the coffee area. My problem with management discussions in the past has been that whenever the discussions come to (what-I-call) difficult subjects, people run away to urgent meetings etc. Some of my colleagues suggested to write an application for the mobile phone so that once you push the “help” button, the phone will ring – simulating a phone call – the person answers and has official permission to “go away” because of this important phone call. Is it then so difficult for people to say e.g. sorry this discussion bores me or I do not care??? Ok, I can see the problem here. Those kind of answers would put even more petrol in the fire and give me a chance to dig even more… I am learning. So once my discussion partner indicated that she becomes “irritated” I thought it’s better to slow down, so that there remains an opportunity for future discussions. Anyway, today was sprint planning day. Sprint planning part I started, the Area Product Owner presenting the work items and the teams confirming which items they take in as a candidate for planning. So far ok and now … what happened to sprint planning – part II? Strangely enough there was no official sprint planning – part II for my team. I am truly puzzled! What is the team’s sprint goal? How does the team know what it can forecast in this sprint? How does the team handle the balance between new feature development and maintenance work? OK, I took a deep breath and suggested to the team – how about if we spend a little more time on planning the work items, so that the team could give a better forecast on what can be done in this sprint. So, we went into a room and looked more deeply at the items, discuss them a little further and clarified also what other work the team will face during this sprint. The team is in its current composition only 2 months old (did the team ever receive basic scrum training? Did the management ever inform people WHY Scrum is followed?) and rather heterogeneous from e.g. competence and personality point of view. A true challenge for me and I hope I can teach the team to take advantage of their diversities. In the end, the team was able to agree on the content of this sprint and the planning meeting was concluded.  
The issue that hit me most today is the people’s ignorance to the power of visualization (and this happens in several different incidents). Once you have seen the power of a Scrum board (incl. burn-down chart), how could you go back to excels and wikis etc. hidden in some file server or similar system. However, in this endeavour, I am already facing a fair amount of resistance and consequently the accompanying “band-aid” solutions. I think I will be busy during this journey :)

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