I recently conducted an introduction to Scrum for a new team. My preparation started with the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Principles of Agile Software Development (http://agilemanifesto.org/). I have read and re-read the Agile Manifesto and Principles repeated, but the one thread that stuck out in this recent review was ‘people.’ Values of Agile
The four core values of Agile software development as stated by the Agile Manifesto are
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
Working software over comprehensive documentation;
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and
Responding to change over following a plan.
12 Agile Principles
The 12 essential Agile attributes articulated in the Agile Manifesto are:
Satisfying customers through early and continuous delivery of valuable work.
Breaking big work down into smaller tasks that can be completed quickly.
Recognizing that the best work emerges from self-organized teams.
Providing motivated individuals with the environment and support they need and trusting them to get the job done.
Creating processes that promote sustainable efforts.
Maintaining a constant pace for completed work.
Welcoming changing requirements, even late in a project.
Assembling the project team and business owners on a daily basis throughout the project.
Having the team reflect at regular intervals on how to become more effective, then tuning and adjusting behavior accordingly.
Measuring progress by the amount of completed work.
Continually seeking excellence.
Harnessing change for a competitive advantage.
When I began to reflect on my training materials, it came back to people. When I began to reflect on my experience, it came back to people. It all came back to people. In fact, one of the four Agile guidelines speaks to people (25%).
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
And five of the 12 Principles of Software Development speaks to people (42%).
Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development the team is a face-to-face conversation.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective then tunes and adjusts it's behavior accordingly.
Not just the people but the right people. Having the right people, is a part of the process. Not only it is a part of the process, it is essential to the success of a Scrum team. First, you need to ensure that you have the right skills represented.
Does the team require architects, analysts, quality assurance, UI/UX, etc.? Does the team have an identified Product Owner (single wringable neck)? Does the team have a Scrum Master identified? The team should be 7 + 2 and should include the product owner and scrum master.
Once you’ve determined that you have the right skill representation, you then need to evaluate if those people are the right people. Below are 6 “C’s” defining traits showing the ‘right people’ constituting the Scrum team.
1. Communicative Communication is a key element of the scrum as highlighted in the manifesto and 12 guiding principles. This is a fundamental change for individuals that are used to working in a silo. Scrum requires at least daily communication.
Stories are often written with minimal detail in order to facilitate a conversation. Scrum requires proactive communication (don’t wait to be asked). Scrum requires great listening. That means that the right persons need to understand the importance of communication and embrace that importance by exhibiting or learning to exhibit a proactive communicative disposition.
Collaboration is also a key element of the scrum. Again, this is a fundamental change for an individual that may be used to working in a silo. Scrum highlights the ‘success and failure as a team’ mentality. That means that the team has a vested interest in and right to ensure that work is getting completed and done correctly. This is a two-way street, not only do you need to have insight into everyone’s work, but you must also be willing to provide the same insight into your own work. The team needs to be willing to pair program, swarm or even mob around stories for the team’s success.
Scrum team members need to be creative. They need to have an ability to be told what is needed without requiring someone to explain ‘how.’ Stories in their purest sense are single sentenced with perhaps a couple of sentences of acceptance criteria.
The Scrum team member (including the Scrum Master and Product Owner) need to be connected to the team. What does it mean to be connected? It means to be invested in the success of the team. It means that they know one another, they know how to interact with one another, they know how to make one another successful and in turn make the team successful. A good scrum team truly works hard and plays hard together. A good scrum team member needs to be willing to develop a ‘work-family’ with his/her scrum team.
It’s controversial in the age of telecommuting, but a co-located team member is the best. Face to face conversations trump video conference calls, phone calls, emails, IM’s, etc. Collaboration is immediate and organic when the team is co-located. Connectedness and camaraderie come to a lot easier with co-location. Co-location makes spontaneous collaboration via swarming, pair programming, and even mob programming that much easier.
If the person doesn’t possess any of the above attributes they are coachable. Not everyone will possess these skills, so coachability becomes one of the most important elements for any team member. Everything else can be taught and demonstrated
Is Scrum all about People?
Agile and Scrum are making the implementation of the software projects more successful by meeting the user’s, customer’s, and the business needs, and at producing software much more quickly and responsively than the traditional waterfall methodology.
All the characteristics of a good Agile team is depend on these values. Once the team is identified and evaluated to be the ‘right people’ you can begin investing in team-wide training/education to establish a baseline understanding of the Scrum, the roles, the ceremonies, and the terminology is a great start to start any project in the organization.
Jeremy Smith is a 20 year IT professional. Jeremy started his IT career in Business Analysis where he was introduced to Scrum. Jeremy pursued his Scrum Master certification and in 2012 began serving as a Project Manager and Scrum Master for multiple teams. Jeremy has since moved into Agile Program Management. Jeremy has also provided Scrum coaching within his roles and independently. Jeremy graduated from Columbus State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration focusing in Computer Information Systems. Jeremy also holds a CSM (Certified Scrum Master) and a CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner) certifications from the Scrum Alliance.