What would you advise a scrum team to do in their first 4 weeks?
That’s an interesting question because it depends on the intention of the team. In my opinion, if their intention is to try scrum, then that is what they should focus on in the first 4 weeks.
Get scrum right. Get it working correctly. Practice the events, artefacts, and processes of scrum in a way that will build a super strong foundation for moving forward.
Learn what doesn’t work.
There is a lot of sound, strategic thinking behind what should happen in a scrum environment. There is also a lot of documentation, thought leadership, and advice about what isn’t great for scrum.
You should get familiar with both.
You should get your hands dirty, mix it up, and have a visceral understanding of why certain patterns or practices just don’t work in scrum. Embed that experience in the team’s learning and understanding of scrum.
It is said that scrum doesn’t solve problems, it reveals them.
Allow the process of working through your first sprint to reveal all the problems you have, all the organizational impediments you are going to bump up against, and all the things that need to be addressed if the team are going to continuously improve with each sprint.
Learn what does work.
People love my Applying Professional Scrum (APS) course because it starts by allowing them to tackle a complex problem the way they traditionally do. It showcases just how clumsy and painful this process is and prepares everybody in the team to explore a better way of doing things.
As we guide them through the right way to apply scrum, it is often a revelation for many people.
A bright, North star that points the way to so much more effectiveness, creativity, and collaboration in the work environment that people are amped to evolve and grow as quickly as they can. They want to live that experience when they return to the office and apply scrum effectively.
Do the same with your first 4 weeks.
Apply scrum effectively and witness how it transforms the product development experience.
Solving complex problems is hard. Building complex solutions is hard. If you have people pulling in one direction, the organization pulling in another, customers pulling in a third direction, and product stakeholders pulling in a fourth direction, it becomes even harder.
Learn how to align all 4 elements with a sprint goal. A commitment to produce a single, working and valuable piece of software or product at the end of the sprint.
Learn what it feels like to witness customers and stakeholders positively review what you have built, engage with the product, and provide you with the kind of feedback that inspires the team to dig a little deeper and reach a little farther in the next sprint.
Learn how your team excel because of scrum. Sure, there are heaps of great case studies for teams who have excelled with scrum, but figure out what works for your team in your unique application.
I have a great set of exercises that I provide for newbie scrum teams. A scrum start-up if you like. A kickstart package of exercises that will help you embed scrum in the team and run through a series of exercises and practices to help you find your feet.
You want to experiment in your first 4 weeks. You want to try things to see what works and what doesn’t work. What is a great starting point that you can build upon and what needs to be revisited and adapted for it to serve a purpose in your team.
I’m happy to share it with anyone that is interested so send an email to email@example.com with a request for the scrum start-up exercises and I will send it through to you.
It really will give you a strong sense of what successful scrum is supposed to look and feel like and provide you with a benchmark that you can measure your own experiences against.
A great idea is to have the team who are working through the 4-week pilot actively create an organizational change backlog through the process. As they bump into things that block progress, document them, and create an organizational change work item to be included in the backlog.
Remember, scrum – even in experienced team environments – is about discovery. You are learning what works, you are learning what doesn’t work, and you are learning what needs to be addressed for the team to move forward effectively.
Document all these things. Explore them in your sprint retrospective and identify what single area you can improve on to make the next sprint more effective. The temptation is to change everything at once, but that can be hard.
Select one thing that the team are committed to changing over the next sprint, and achieve that goal or objective. Get that one thing right and then select another element in the next sprint retrospective to tackle.
Consistently doing so will eliminate many of the problem areas in your organization and pave the way for future product development success. It will also make problems visible to management teams and inspire them to do something about it.
About NKD Agility
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