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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).

  1. The team reports to the Scrum Master at the Daily Scrum
  2. People wait for instructions from the Scrum Master
  3. Team members don't hold each other responsible [for their commitments]
  4. The same impediment comes up twice
  5. "That's the way it is" => resignation
  6. "I" instead of "We"
  7. Flip charts are lonely
  8. Culture of conflict-avoidance
  9. Decisions processes are unclear, nor are they discussed
  10. Personal goals are more important than team goals

To this list I would add my a couple of my favorites:
  1. you don't see a triangle on the task board (not working according prioritization of stories)
  2. after the daily Scrum, people return directly to their desks (no collaboration)
  3. there are a least as many stories in progress as team members (no pairing)

P.S. You can join the discussion or solve your own challenges at a future event! And here is the original list (in German).

EDIT: Here is the second slide:

  • Retrospectives are superficial
  • Agile Mindset Not Present => No inspect and adapt
  • The Team has no influence on the backlog (order, content, priority)
  • The Team is not interested in improving their performance
  • Changes in Team Composition are not managed by the Team
  • New members are not introduced by the whole team
(Suggestions for improved translation are most welcome!)


Think Quality said…
Was very interesting to create this list. Many of these warning signs are quite common for teams who are new to agile. The point you added to the list (team members return to their desks after daily) is also a very good indicator (just recently observed this...)
Thanks for your translation.
Think Quality said…
Hi Peter
There was a second flip with more signs...see attachments from Godela.
Peter said…
Hi Think

Thanks for pointing that out. I have added a link to the picture and taken a short at translating it.

Mladen Miljic said…
Thanks a lot for this very helpful list. We will use it as base for communication and that for, we prefer to have a positiv description. So we changed and used "we" instead:

The team reports to the Scrum Master at the Daily Scrum
We discuss our achievements and the Most Important Task for the day for ourselves and not for the Scrum Master.

People wait for instructions from the Scrum Master
We don’t wait for instructions. We always identify and start the next Most Important Task.

Team members don't hold each other responsible [for their commitments]
We depend on each other’s commitments.

The same impediment comes up twice
We never let a problem happen again.

"That's the way it is" => resignation
“We’ve always done it that way” is not a reason.

"I" instead of "We”
Always “we”, not “I”.

Flip charts are lonely
We come together to describe, diagram and prototype new concepts and designs.

Culture of conflict-avoidance
We are not afraid to disagree.

Decisions processes are unclear, nor are they discussed
We understand how a decision has been made and why.

Personal goals are more important than team goals
We prioritise team goals over personal goals.

Maybe it helps you, as well.
Peter said…
Dear Mladen,

Thank you so much for this! I am thrilled that our work has inspired you. I will post this back to the original thread so the workshop participants can benefit from your work!

Rashmi said…
Thanks for a summarized list...
Agreed, i have experienced that #3 and #10 are killer for scrum team.

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