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Not Speaking Teams

Last post 07:02 am September 18, 2020 by ezgi kakaliçoğlu cihan
11 replies
11:24 am September 15, 2020

Hi All,

Frequently developments teams are not speaking. I always as a SM, try yo take some words. To understand their thoughts i produce too many questions,but noone has answers... I try to solve communication problem to find the real root cause. Do you suggest anything like workshop,any tactic for meetings?

Usually I prepare facilitation including timing and I firstly begin with check-in.However my main problem is in planning ,refinement and review meetings. When PO or product manager ask a question,they do not answer. Everytime PO has to give answers as a resul of silence.

Any feedback or question really needed to solve communication problem and encourage the teams.


11:44 am September 15, 2020

How communicative and collaborative are team members with each other throughout the working day?

12:29 pm September 15, 2020

One action might be to advise the Product Owner not to answer questions on behalf of the Development Team.

As a Scrum Team, have you discussed this matter, and the effect that this is having? If this conversation takes place with humility, sensitivity, and in a safe environment, the members of the Development Team might provide insights into why they don't respond in the way you expect.

It could be for any number (and combination) of reasons. But to use specific examples, your response to a fear of accountability should probably be different to a scenario where the team do not feel empowered to speak.

01:24 pm September 15, 2020

Have you tried to talk to members of the development team in private? 

02:50 pm September 15, 2020

How long are these "silences"?

How do you feel regarding silence?

05:43 pm September 15, 2020

hi all,

I asked them as private and in team retrospective. they said "I dont know the answer, so I didn't want to talk."

For their individual relationship , they feel they are really friends. But when we are working, a deep silence occurs. I am also sure we have transperancy, because they can talk in safe environment. Noone  did give bad reactions before.

For daily life of whole team ,they are not good nor bad. Sometimes they are suffering from decide couldn't made immediately;i mean they can not easily organized,they can not decide quickly. They wait always manager&po decision or word. I frequently said that development team is the boss.


07:54 pm September 15, 2020

 I asked them as private and in team retrospective. they said "I dont know the answer, so I didn't want to talk.

First off, this is a tricky problem to tackle.  So don’t be hard on yourself if it takes a while to work through it as a team. 

Developers tend to be pretty analytical, so one strategy you might try is to help them frame the issue as a puzzle to be solved.

For ex, you could say, “I think this is what you all are saying: you don’t know the answer, and since you want to be conscientious and you don’t want to give an answer you can’t back up, so you don’t end up talking?  Did I get it right?”  


Assuming they say yes, work with them to brainstorm a list of what the undesirable consequences are of this understandable approach.


  • Brainstorm ideas on alternative approaches to try out
  • Take some concrete examples of when they didn’t talk and try out the proposed new approaches.  

Or if folks are getting stuck, brainstorm alt approaches using the ex’s where they didn’t talk as test cases.  

By doing all of this, you are nudging them away from focusing on a particular response — I don’t know so I don’t say anything — to starting to take ownership as a team of the broader issue of effectively communicating in a way that a) takes care of the product owner/manager’s needs, b) protects themselves, and c) delivers a great product for their users

09:22 pm September 15, 2020

"I dont know the answer, so I didn't want to talk."

For complex and creative work nobody is expected to know the answer. It's emergent, and that's precisely the reason to talk.

Do the team understand this, and why Scrum is appropriate to their situation? 

07:55 am September 16, 2020

I know that issue with parts of the team, they don't want to give in that they don't know and don't want to do errors, so they stay silent. This is espescially challenging if you have customers or management in a call.


Do they speak in Retrospective?

For the next Retrospective, make sure you only have the DevTeam, no customers and managers. Make use of the Vegas rule, what happens in the Retro stays in the Retro, nothing will leave the team. Then use an icebreaker and bring that topic up, try to check out why they are not communicating, make clear to them that they do not need to know everything, but that the complete team is working to find solutions and every input is valuable. At the end the DevTeam is defining how it is implemented. 

Of course, if the lack of knowledge is about the domain, product or backlog item, you will need to take that feedback and go to the PO to support him on the Backlog Refinement. The DevTeam needs to understand what the product needs and why this is needed.

12:15 pm September 16, 2020

Do you suggest anything like workshop, any tactic for meetings?

Maybe Liberating Structures could be valueable for your team. 

01:26 pm September 16, 2020

As Nils suggested, Liberating Structures can aid you greatly. You should look into Generative Relationships (STAR), Heard Seen Respected (HSR) or 9 Whys liberating structures. Depending on the situation on hand, inspect and adopt an appropriate liberating structure. 

07:02 am September 18, 2020

Hi all,

Thanks for all replies. I will try Liberating Structures.