Advices for a junior dev in a disfunctional scrum team

Last post 07:59 pm March 5, 2020
by Anna Kosten
6 replies
05:38 am February 29, 2020

I am the most junior developer at a team of 5 people who act kinda SCRUM developing and maintaining mainly back-office applications.

The problems are:

-PO is kinda promotion for the most senior dev, who is responsible for talking with the stakeholders and writing the stories, makes the calls of what to do and also codes the rest of the time. As most senior dev, she ends up joining the technical decisions of the dev team all the time. Although, she's not the boss, because there are the managers out of the scrum teams.

-There is no Scrum Master, although there is an Agility Manager. Outside the teams, of course.

My PO is leaving the team, I guess the next days I'll discover the next one. So, I think it's a good time for trying to introduce some changes.

I think no one believes SCRUM. We are some months without doing dailies, we had a sprint of 2 months and a half and no one said something, stories are written in the daily, there are no definitions of done nor ready. Also, stories are planned for last for weeks and splitting them is just an effort not made.

It's very frustrating because the remaining SCRUM ritual (planning) is just a waste of time.

I kinda think SCRUM is a good framework to work and would like to be closer to it. I work in projects that I think are not as important than others, frequently I end my tasks (I think it's a better name) and I don't have more tasks to do, which bothers me, and I have to ask the PO for more in the middle of the sprint.

I'd rather address it without talking with managers, or at least not doing so now.

What do you suggest me to do?

02:59 am March 2, 2020

If you want to work in real Scrum you have to explain the benefits of it. No matter who you are senior or junior developer

05:57 am March 2, 2020

First of all, it's important to consider this line 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.

Do your colleagues believe that your organization is currently implementing Scrum? The first step might be to point out that what you have is not Scrum. That doesn't automatically make what you are doing good or bad, but it's extremely unhelpful to pretend it's Scrum (or expect any perceived benefits of Scrum) when you're doing something else.

I'd rather address it without talking with managers, or at least not doing so now.

This is a difficult one.

It's certainly going to help if you have the support of the whole team, but I expect you will need management support to bring about meaningful change. Scrum is more than just hiring a team and assigning roles to people. It touches the entire organization. Beyond the Scrum Team, it relies on stakeholder involvement, and an organizational culture that supports empirical product development.

You need to judge the situation for yourself, but perhaps you should make the case to your team, and be very assertive; stating that you intend to follow this up by talking to management. By involving the team first, you have the chance to unify and agree on something together, and by stating an intention to raise it with management, you show that you're determined, and that you feel you need their support / assistance.
It also leaves you in a better position in case the team resist your efforts and you still feel it's worth escalating to management.

09:03 am March 2, 2020

Now just to take it a step back; how has Scrum been applied here? And by that I mean, has there been assessed whether Scrum would be fitting to solve the problem that you're trying to solve. 

What I see in practice quite often is that Scrum/SAFe or other popular agile framework are seen as the magic solution for the company and will immediatly create a picture perfect scenario, without addressing what the actual problem is and what would be the best way to solve the problem. And by no means do I mean that Scrum doesn't work BUT it's no silver bullet or a one-size-fits-all approach. And by reading your situation, I ask myself whether everyone has been trained properly/understands the framework, the roles and responsibilities, events etc.

05:38 am March 3, 2020

I agree that there seems to something wrong with the implementation of Scrum within your company. As Sander already stated correctly is Scrum much more than roles, positions and by no means the one solution.

But furthermore I think that this so called team of yours does not really work as a team right now and you stated several reasons in your post above. I firmly believe that you as a development team have to get together to clear out the air but (and this is something that is always difficult) management has to offer support.

This is by no means the first time and it will not be the last that companies hear something about Scrum and implement it in a very bad way. In the end this not only affects the progress but it will confuse the people who are supposed to grow with it.

08:24 pm March 3, 2020

I'd rather address it without talking with managers, or at least not doing so now.

Why not?

What do you suggest me to do?

What do the Scrum Values suggest you should do?

01:36 pm March 5, 2020

Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum was subtitled "The art of doing twice twice the work in half the time." If mgmt is using agile to get more out of the team without understanding how it works and what their role is, trust likely will not be improved. But if everyone agrees as to who does what, in an agile process that everyone is committed to following, trust can improve.