Team Self Organisation Boundaries

Last post 12:07 pm November 20, 2019
by Paul Prince
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05:51 pm November 17, 2019

I welcome the community's input into how far we enable the Development Team to self organise. If the development team at a retrospective decided they didn't want to do daily stand-ups and have a weekly update meeting instead. As a scrum master, you would obviously attempt to coach them in the reasons for a daily standup as well as understanding the impact of their decision. But if that failed to convince them, would you be expected to respect their decision and let them learn through empiricism. I am trying to avoid the scrum master becoming the Scrum Police, whilst allowing and respecting the team's self-organisation growth. 

06:25 pm November 17, 2019

From the Scrum Guide

Scrum’s roles, events, artifacts, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum.

If the goal of the organization is to follow the Scrum framework, then the Daily Scrum (not Daily Stand-up) would be a key inspect and adapt meeting.

From the Scrum Guide

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting

The Scrum Master is not policing anybody. They are helping, training, mentoring and coaching Scrum Teams and others in the organization on the adoption of Scrum.

With this being said, there are instances where some rogue members of the organization may decide to take advantage of "self organization" and use that to do whatever they want. Can development team members self-organize and decide to work on a product that is different than the one that the business leadership wants them to work on? I worked with one developer who tried to convince others on his team to do away with Daily Scrums. At that point, the Scrum Master and his manager had to have a conversation with him privately because at the end of the day, we were working for a company who has business objectives and goals and has to make a profit. 

10:09 pm November 17, 2019

Why not let them try for a Sprint and see what happens?

The Daily Scrum is part of Scrum - other methods may have similar events or not. By not holding the Daily Scrum, they would be risking losing some of the benefits of Scrum, but that doesn't mean the resulting process won't be good for the team. Looking at this particular example, a team that regularly performs mob programming may not need the Daily Scrum since they are working as a single unit on a piece of work - everyone in the mob knows its state and any impediments.

At the end of the day, I'd be looking at the underlying Lean and Agile values rather than a particular framework. Changing some things would move the team away from agility - these should be avoided. However, moving away from Scrum or any other methodology toward a new and different methodology are open for experimentation.

09:50 am November 18, 2019

But if that failed to convince them, would you be expected to respect their decision and let them learn through empiricism.

Might you have a responsibility to put transparency over what is and isn't Scrum, and the consequences of improperly applying it?

04:20 pm November 18, 2019

The aspect of self-organization doesn't mean complete free-reign. Scrum is a framework and is very lightweight, if Scrum doesn't work, find a framework that does work but don't take Scrum and pick and choose what you want to use and continue saying you're following the Scrum Framework. 

As far as the Scrum Master role, our job is to ensure the team follows Scrum. Otherwise, the team can pretty much do what they want. Think about a referee in your favorite sport. They are responsible to make sure the rules of the game are followed, they don't care what the teams do other than that. Say you're a ref in the NBA, a team comes to you and says "yeah the whole foul rules don't work for us. We would be more productive on defense if we were able to be more physical with no penalty."  Would you say "ok cool, in the spirit of  trying something new, give it a try and see how it works, I won't call any fouls on your team." Do you see a problem with that? Pretty sure the other team would have a problem with that.

Encourage self-organization but the team needs to live within the framework.

12:07 pm November 20, 2019

Thank you for your advice it's much clearer now.