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Team Interruption

Last post 11:44 am April 16, 2020 by Sanjeev Nanda
3 replies
02:14 am April 15, 2020

If your developers are getting interrupted during the sprint, (affecting their ability to meet the sprint goal), whose responsibility is it to address the interruption?

If my understanding is right, I would say the 'Development Team' should be allowed to handle the interruption. (assuming they are a mature self-organizing team). If they are unable to handle the interruption, due to the complexity or time consuming nature of the interruption, they would request the PO to handle it. (assuming PO can decide what kind of business value that interruption brings to the table and work with the development team to adjust Spring goals). PO can decide to add the interruptions to the Product Backlog (if related to the product) or work with leadership to identify other teams to handle interruptions.

Basically, Development team should handle any interruptions, if they can handle it without affecting sprint goal. If not work with PO or have the PO handle it. Would this be the path to improving the maturity of the Development team and reaching self-organizing team status?

03:29 pm April 15, 2020

The Scrum Team is also self-organizing and self-managing.  That includes the PO and Scrum Master as well as the Development Team.  So if the Development Team is being interrupted, then the entire Scrum Team is experiencing it.  Remember that everyone on the team shares the same goals. 

In my opinion, if the Development Team members are not being successful at addressing the interruptions, then someone else has to.  I feel like the Scrum Master would be the next in line.  I am assuming that the interruptions are coming from outside of the Scrum Team.  This comes from the Scrum Guide section on the responsibilities that the Scrum Master has to the organization:

The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:

  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization;
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and,
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.

At this point the Scrum Master should be working with the people that are interrupting and help them see how their actions are counterproductive to the Scrum Team's ability to perform.  

This comes from same section of the Scrum Guide but is a responsibility the Scrum Master has to the Development Team

Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;

Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.

The Scrum Master should also be working with the Development Team to help them come to a solution on how best to handle the interruptions and coaching them on how to say no while offering an alternative solution. 

The Product Owner is actually the last person in line to deal with this. They should absolutely be part of the discussions on how to address the impediment and most likely are going to be part of the solution but they should be the last one that tries to remove the problem.

06:09 pm April 15, 2020

Would this be the path to improving the maturity of the Development team and reaching self-organizing team status?

I'd suggest the path is to have a clear policy for handling interruptions, whatever that policy might be. A Scrum Master could facilitate the agreement of such a policy, ensuring that its implications are transparent, understood, and accepted by everyone concerned.


11:44 am April 16, 2020

While some would argue that it's because of an unruly team that you're experiencing this, and some would say that the leader is at fault - I would digress! It is but the part of the scheduling and conducting that you're facing these issues. it's a symptom of having a poorly organized team in total. I would suggest that you fortify your basics and then look to reverse engineer your entire conduct accordingly!

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