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Scrum Team Design Discussions

Last post 05:26 pm February 6, 2019 by Timothy Baffa
8 replies
01:58 pm January 24, 2019


I am working in a new group and the lead developers have design discussions and do not include all team members.  The team members are forced to read through whatever sparse notes are provided and ask questions as they do the work.  I find that this impedes the WIP.  They have finally agreed to at least provide artifacts for the team.  However, I think it is unfair to the rest of the team not to hear the discussion.  Can anyone recommend any scrum building activities I can use to help the lead developers and architects understand the importance of sharing information as they think it is a waste of time.  


11:59 am January 25, 2019

As you know, certain discussions are meant to take place at higher levels. Waste could be incurred on many fronts if the audience is too large.

Under the circumstances, it would be fair to ask everyone to gather in one group for everyone to understand what's the scope/goals/objectives. I've found people are most always self protecting, and if they assess participating is a waste of their time, they would opt out.

One of the most pressing questions to ask the leads would be: why doesn't it make sense, from their perspective, that people who do the legwork aren't involved in discussions? 


06:34 pm January 25, 2019

I find that this impedes the WIP

This would suggest that the work is not “ready” for Sprint Planning.

Can anyone recommend any scrum building activities I can use

Why is Product Backlog refinement proving to be inadequate for the purposes of making work “ready”? Refinement ought to include sufficient design to achieve this objective.

05:56 pm January 28, 2019

@Eugene M.  I agree that a high -level, cross-platform architecture meeting is necessary before decomposing the Epics and Features into user stories.  However, once the architectural meeting occurs, there are no artifacts provided to the teams until they, "need" it.  This has been an uphill battle, so I figured I should come up with a team building activity that will show them how fragmented information disrupts the teams.


@ Ian Mitchell.  Our process includes not adding a user story unless the entire team understands and agrees that the user story should be added.  The team agrees that the user story is ready during the backlog refinement and planning poker.  Team agreement is confirmed again during planning and everyone agrees to understanding all of the tasks needed to complete the user story.  However, I have some new folks that are apprehensive about asking questions, unless they have to work on the user story.  Folks seem to be waiting until the user story is in progress and prompts questions and then it takes a while to get the user story completed.  I am still working with our teams to get rid of the idea of SME's and silos.  My goal is to get them to become more T-shaped teams.  I am hoping our team building activities will encourage folks to speak up.

Thank you all for your responses and your questions.  Any ideas for team building activities that you think have proven successful for remote teams is appreciated. 

08:49 pm January 28, 2019

"Any ideas for team building activities that you think have proven successful for remote teams is appreciated."

- Start meetings with ice breaker, learn more about the culture and place of the remote members and use appropriate questions or conversation to break the ice!

- Buddy system or pairing one person in a location with another in a different location, exchanging information on the task or story they are working on for 30 min to an hour, each day or alternate days. Alternate pairs every couple of sprints so all team members can start knowing each other

- Use video conferencing during refinement, planning and retro

- Retro technique - have each member write something that they admire about any one other member in a different location (or same if not equal distribution of members)

01:16 am January 29, 2019

lead developers have design discussions and do not include all team members.  The team members are forced to read through whatever sparse notes are provided and ask questions as they do the work

Why are only the "lead developers" having design discussions and not the entire team?

Would it be better to have the entire development team own the design? For example, could one or two developers create a design and ask the others for feedback, or the entire development team discuss and come up with a design?

09:29 am January 30, 2019

As I am taking training, Scrum Certification training at Altegiclearn. So I am also learning some important things from this discussion. So I may not satisfy you with my discussion. Thank you

02:50 pm February 6, 2019

@ Jaysmika Thanks for the suggestions.  All of our team members are in the US.  I will still be able to utilize the suggestions.

@Ben They said it is a waste of time, however, the team members already shared in the last retrospective that they liked and needed the design discussions.  This has still been a point of contention as there is still emphasis on hierarchy.  I told the team that if they want to be successful, collaboration is key across the board.  

@Adarsh  Good luck to you. The more you practice, the better it gets.  I have been practicing scrum for a number of years.  I have found that the more varied situations of implementation I have, the more I am challenged in my understanding.  Gain a firm understanding of the basics and this will help you navigate the challenging organizations.

05:26 pm February 6, 2019


One strategy that your "ivory tower" architects and lead developers may be open to is to rotate a team member into their discussions each sprint.   Start small, evaluate the effectiveness (did it result in less downstream KT and communication?), and maybe look for opportunities to increase attendance.

Also, it may be worthwhile to emphasize Team Ownership of the sprint backlog forecast.   To Ian's original point, silo-ed information hinders Development Team understanding and negatively impacts Sprint Planning.

If you're looking for an exercise to reinforce the benefit of sharing information, this one may help:…


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