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To what extent manager can interfere or how to avoid manager interference ?

Last post 06:32 am September 21, 2018 by vishal Rajadhyaksha
6 replies
08:28 am September 20, 2018

Ideally, in scrum only three roles are present 

(a)Product owner

(b) Scrum Master

(c) Developer

But problem arises when manager of development team interfere. For example, I joined this particular project 2 months back as a scrum master. Now, manager is asking JAVA Service developers to work on UI stories by learning UI. For this he has asked them to get 1 hour training from UI developer for about a month. Service developers are saying it's not possible to work on UI stories and they are demotivated. But this manager who is know for his silly decision making in entire department is not in mood to listen. How this kind of situation should be handled?


03:48 pm September 20, 2018

Can you clarify why cross-skilling people in UI and services, which would presumably be of value to the team, is impossible in this case?

04:15 pm September 20, 2018

Start with why?  It might be helpful in this case to help the Development Team understand why being a cross functional team may be a benefit, rather than simply a Java component team.  There are many articles that can be found on google about the benefits of feature vs component teams, as well as the benefits of slicing Product Backlog work vertically rather than horizontally.

05:29 pm September 20, 2018

Well.. I am not technical guy but the team members and even team lead is saying it will take couple of months for service guys to learn UI and have confidence to accept UI stories. 

Initially, manager gave 2 weeks to them to learn UI but afterwards the learning time is increased to 1 month. But still, the developers are not ready to accept UI stories. Developers are saying, if manager is forcing, they will accept but they can't guarantee that the work will be completed within 2 weeks sprint time. Team lead is highly work holic and very honest to his work kind of guy so I believe what he said - It won't be possible to learn UI and accept the work. But in front of manager, he also doesn't say a word and says, we need to developers UI stories as manager is saying..we have no option. Manager knows about team's reluctance and developers even spoke to him about their concerns but no use.

Please help.

06:11 pm September 20, 2018

Hi Vishal

If I may add my 2 cents worth, the path to being a self-organising cross-functional team is an on-going one, constant up and cross-skilling is unavoidable and it's not uncommon for the Dev Team to feel uneasy at the start of the journey.

What I would suggest to ease that uneasiness is for them to commit to the level which they are comfortable with (eg. a 5-point user story instead of 8) in the upcoming Sprint which has UI components. If the user story is already of a certain size (eg. 8-point) and is challenging for the newly cross-skilled team member to take it up, I will suggest for that user story to be broken down further.

With a couple of Sprints down the road, the Dev Team should feel more comfortable, confident and capable in taking up user stories which wasn't in their primary domain at the start. After all, they will need to put whatever new skills they have picked up into practice to get better at it.

06:39 pm September 20, 2018

It won't be possible to learn UI and accept the work.

In Scrum, no-one can force work onto a Development Team, regardless of whatever skills they have or lack. Nor can anyone force a schedule onto them for development, delivery, learning, or anything else.

On the other hand a Development Team should be willing and keen to cross-train, and to acquire new skills which allow them to collaborate and complete work more effectively.

Hence it seems that both the team and the manager have learning opportunities. Coaching them through these things towards a better understanding of Scrum is part of a Scrum Master’s role. I suspect the issue is whether or not there is a strong enough desire to learn.

06:32 am September 21, 2018

Hi Ian , Chris and Chang,

Your suggestions are really helpful to deal with this situation.

Appreciate your time and thank you so much.


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