Skip to main content

Scrum at Six Card Solutions (or why I think managers are needed in Scrum)

Six Card Solutions belongs to the earlier adopters among Swiss Financial Institutions deploying Scrum. They started rolling out Scrum among their 80 developers in Zurich last Summer (2009). So, how did it go?

Christoph Loher (Product Owner) and Stefan Kinigadner (ScrumMaster) were the leaders of the first team to transition to Scrum at Six's Development Group Zurich. The organization presented to usual challenges one expects when trying to transition one team to a cross-functional Scrum in a company that is organized on function division. Despite this challenge, the team was able to achieve a pretty good Scrum (based on Henrik Kniberg's Scrum Checklist).

One problem in particular stood out: As the project unfolded, the team grew. This was a relic of the classical project planning. At some point, the team became unwieldy - 12 people or so - and performance stagnated. The P-O wanted to split the team in two. Although they talked about it in several retrospectives, the team was never enthusiastic about splitting. Eventually, the P-O insisted (but avoided falling back into command and control). Although not all variables have been eliminated, after the first sprint after the split, it looks like the team(s) substantially improved their productivity and everyone agreed the split was a good thing.

You can download their presentation here:  Scrum at Six Card Solutions

A lot of the discussion centered on why the team could not agree to split. My take: the members of a team are expected to form a unit, to commit to that unit and to solve problems together. Even the ScrumMaster is taught 'When in doubt, ask the team!'  Asking a team to split itself up is asking the team members to reject their identity, something they are not all inclined to do!

Perhaps there are limits to what problems self-organizing teams can be expected to solve. And this hints at the role of management in a Scrum organization.

What's your experience? What are the limits of a self organizing team?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

10 Warning Signs, that your team is not self-organizing

How do you know that self-organization is working? The Bern Chapter of Scrum Breakfast Club looked into this questions, and identified the following warning signs (which I have taken the liberty of translating).

The team reports to the Scrum Master at the Daily ScrumPeople wait for instructions from the Scrum MasterTeam members don't hold each other responsible [for their commitments]The same impediment comes up twice"That's the way it is" => resignation"I" instead of "We"Flip charts are lonelyCulture of conflict-avoidanceDecisions processes are unclear, nor are they discussedPersonal goals are more important than team goals
To this list I would add my a couple of my favorites:
you don't see a triangle on the task board (not working according prioritization of stories)after the daily Scrum, people return directly to their desks (no collaboration)there are a least as many stories in progress as team members (no pairing)
P.S. You can join the …