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How to overcome some of the more painful challenges in Scrum

As a Scrum enthusiast, Fujitsu expert Frederik De Breuck has been using the framework for many years. He has seen how it works wonders for teams of all sizes and from various industries, but he also knows that it can sometimes massively fail. Despite its challenges, he still believes in the potential of Scrum to improve team dynamics, communication, and overall performance. Whether you’re new to Scrum or a seasoned practitioner, this blogpost will provide you with some valuable insights and inspiration to keep improving your Scrum team’s performance.

 Written by: Frederik De Breuck – Head of Enterprise Blockchain and Innovation at Fujitsu Global – Uvance, CDO/CTO of Fujitsu Belgium

Scrum is a widely used methodology for managing complex and international application development journeys. A well-functioning Scrum team is essential for delivering high-quality products and meeting project goals. However, as complexity grows, Scrum teams can face challenges that may degrade their performance over time. So how can you overcome these challenges and maintain a high-performing Scrum team?

One of the biggest challenges for Scrum teams is maintaining good team dynamics and communication. Retrospective meetings and conflict resolution are essential to address issues and improve team performance. However, conducting these meetings effectively and resolving conflicts efficiently can take time and effort. Moreover, involving stakeholders and line managers in the Scrum process is crucial to aligning the team’s efforts with project goals.

Another challenge that Scrum teams face is developing Scrum expertise. Coaching and mentoring are essential for developing team members’ Scrum expertise, but strategies for doing so sometimes need to be clarified. In addition, access to Scrum best practices and methodologies can be difficult, and continuously educating the team is essential for staying up to date with the latest Scrum practices.

Measuring and improving performance is also a challenge for Scrum teams. Surveys and feedback can be used to measure team satisfaction and engagement; leveraging this feedback to improve the Scrum process is essential. Clear and consistent definitions of done and acceptance criteria are also crucial to ensuring that the team delivers high-quality products.

This blog will explore these challenges in more detail and provide suggestions for overcoming them. By implementing these suggestions, Scrum teams can improve their performance and delivery.

Improving Team Dynamics and Communication

Effective communication and team dynamics are crucial to maintaining a high-performing Scrum team. One way to improve these areas is to hold regular retrospective meetings and apply techniques for effective conflict resolution.

  • Retrospective Meetings: Retrospective meetings are an integral part of the Scrum process and provide an opportunity for the team to reflect on the previous sprint and identify areas for improvement. It is essential to have a structured approach to these meetings, such as using a retrospective template or a facilitator to guide the discussion.
  • Conflict Resolution:Conflict is a natural part of any team dynamic, and it is essential to have a process in place to address and resolve conflicts within the team. This can include techniques such as active listening, identifying the underlying issue, and finding a mutually beneficial solution. According to a study by the Project Management Institute, teams that manage conflicts effectively perform 28% better at the project level.
  • Stakeholder and Line Manager Involvement: Involving stakeholders and line managers in the Scrum process is critical to ensuring alignment with project goals and objectives. This can include regularly updating them on team progress, involving them in retrospective meetings and sprint planning sessions, and ensuring they understand the Scrum process and their role in it.
  • Aligning the team’s efforts with project goals: Scrum teams need to have a shared understanding of the product vision, and everyone should be aware of the purposes of the product and the sprints. This can be accomplished by sharing the product and sprint backlog with the team, explaining it repeatedly, and involving the team in the planning process.

Developing Scrum Expertise

As a Scrum team progresses through multiple sprints and projects, it is essential to continually develop its members’ expertise. This ensures that the team stays abreast of Scrum best practices and helps improve overall performance.

An effective way to develop Scrum expertise is through coaching and mentoring. A study by the Scrum Alliance found that teams with a dedicated coach or mentor were more likely to successfully implement Scrum, with 85% of teams reporting an improvement in their ability to deliver value.

To implement coaching and mentoring within your team, consider appointing a dedicated coach or mentor to work with the team or provide team members with training and resources to take on a coaching role themselves. Regular check-ins between coaches, mentors, and team members are essential for providing guidance and support.

In addition to coaching and mentoring, the team needs access to education and resources. This can be done by encouraging team members to attend Scrum-related workshops and conferences, providing access to Scrum training materials, or subscribing to Scrum-related publications.

It is important to note that developing Scrum expertise isn’t a one-time event; It is a continuous process that requires ongoing effort and commitment from the team. To ensure success, allocate time and resources for team members to continue learning and developing their Scrum skills.

Measuring and Improving Performance

As a Scrum team, it is important to regularly measure and assess your performance to identify areas for improvement and ensure that you are on track to meet your goals. One of the best ways to do this is through surveys and feedback.

According to a study by Scrum Alliance, teams that regularly conduct retrospectives and gather feedback have an 80% satisfaction rate, compared to teams that do not collect input, with a satisfaction rate of only 60%. This highlights the importance of regularly collecting feedback from team members to measure their satisfaction and engagement in the Scrum process.

One way to gather feedback is to survey each retrospective. The survey should include questions about the team’s overall satisfaction with the Scrum process and specific questions about communication, conflict resolution, and other areas that may cause issues. The survey results can then be used to identify areas for improvement and develop action plans to address the issues identified.

Another critical aspect of measuring and improving performance is having clear and consistent definitions of “Done” and acceptance criteria. According to the Scrum Guide, one of the roles of the Scrum Master is to ensure that the team understands and uses a consistent definition of “Done.” This means that everyone on the team should clearly understand what it takes for a product increment to be considered complete.

Having a clear definition of “Done” also helps with planning and estimating, allowing the team to assess more accurately how much work is needed for a particular task or feature. It also helps ensure that the team is aligned on the project goals and that everyone is working towards the same end goal.

To ensure that the team’s definitions of “Done” and acceptance criteria are clear and consistent, it is essential to review and update them regularly. This can be done during retrospective meetings, where the team can discuss any issues that have arisen and make necessary changes to the definitions.

Overall, measuring and improving performance is an ongoing process that requires regular feedback, precise definitions, and continuous education. By regularly gathering feedback and making improvements, teams can ensure that they are on track to meet their goals and improve their overall Scrum process.

A Conclusion (sort of)

Teams and companies must recognize the importance of a well-functioning Scrum team and the challenges that arise as complexity grows. It requires various strategies and techniques that teams can use to improve their dynamics and communication, develop Scrum expertise, and measure and improve performance.

Every role and stakeholder should understand their part in the importance of retrospective meetings, effective conflict resolution techniques, and the role of stakeholders and line managers in aligning the team’s efforts with project goals.

Coaching and mentoring, strategies to develop team members’ Scrum expertise, and ways to access Scrum best practices and educational methodologies remain critical in every journey.

Measuring progress means measuring team satisfaction and engagement through surveys and feedback, while having clear and consistent definitions of done and acceptance criteria.

Maintaining a high-performing Scrum team requires ongoing effort and attention to team dynamics, communication, expertise, and performance. It is vital to track the results and adjust accordingly. By implementing some of the strategies and techniques mentioned, teams can increase their chances of success and improve their overall performance.

As a takeaway, here is a set of tips.  

I. Improving Team Dynamics and Communication

  • Hold regular retrospective meetings and encourage open communication among team members
  • Use effective conflict resolution techniques such as active listening and compromise
  • Involve stakeholders and line managers in the Scrum process to align the team’s efforts with project goals

II. Developing Scrum Expertise

  • Provide coaching and mentoring opportunities for team members to improve their understanding of Scrum
  • Utilize a variety of education and resources to stay up to date on Scrum best practices and methodologies
  • Continuously educate the team through regular training sessions

III. Measuring and Improving Performance

  • Use surveys and feedback to measure team satisfaction and engagement
  • Use the results of these surveys to improve the Scrum process and make necessary adjustments
  • Clearly define the team’s Definition of Done and Acceptance Criteria to ensure consistency in the team’s work
  • Implement the suggestions and track the results to improve the performance of the Scrum team continuously

Do you want to sync, have questions or just want to grab a coffee together? Do not hesitate to contact us!

Frederik De Breuck is Head of Enterprise Blockchain and Innovation at Fujitsu Global – Uvance, CDO/CTO of Fujitsu Belgium

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