Newly formed Scrum teams without much of experience

Last post 10:00 pm November 10, 2021
by Njegoš Ilić
3 replies
11:27 pm November 9, 2021

Hi guys, 

I was wondering can you share your thoughts about your approach with Scrum teams that are not that experienced and knowledgeable about Scrum (e.g. Devs mainly juniors and PO with a PM attitude).

From your experience, generally what would be the main risk areas in such teams, and what was your mitigation plan?

What was the main focus of actions working with such POs and inexperienced team members?

How much you were involved during those Sprint Plannings, bearing in mind that Dev team and PO aren't that knowledgable and experienced in Scrum?

What was, for you guys, the best parameter for measuring those teams' progress and maturity in agile?

03:44 am November 10, 2021

In Scrum, the best parameter for gauging maturity and progress is the ability to complete Done and immediately usable work every Sprint. That's likely to be the main focus. I'd say the biggest risk would be management failure to communicate and reinforce a sense of urgency for the necessary change.

01:34 pm November 10, 2021

In the situation you described, the fact that the team is not experienced or knowledgable with Scrum isn't the biggest risk that I can see. The person in the coaching role - the Scrum Master, if the team decides to use Scrum - should be familiar with agility and various methods and frameworks for helping the team to deliver. The coach should also be empowered by the organization and accepted by the team to guide them on a path of continuous improvement.

The "PO with a PM attitude" could be a risk, if the "PM attitude" is one of command-and-control. The coach can mitigate this risk by making sure that the Product Owner understands the responsibilities and accountabilities associated with the role and help them fit in.

Junior developers are also a risk, especially a lot of them. Junior developers tend to be inexperienced in both the tools/technologies used to design and build the product, but also the environment and context that the product exists in. That's a lot to learn. Making sure that the time to learn is built into the plans and forecasts is key. Focus on making sure the development pace is sustainable, which includes time to build skills.

The biggest thing for a coach to look at is facilitating the key activities and making sure the team has time to develop their skills in product management, design, and development. How this is done depends on the strengths of the coach, as not all coaches are equal. A coach that comes from a development background is going to be focused on different things than a coach that comes from a business or product management background or an organizational leadership and transformation background.

In terms of measuring progress, I'd be looking at making sure the team is able to get work Done every Sprint. Then, how they can improve. Improvement may mean making their Definition of Done more strict and improving the quality of the Product Increments. It could also be increasing their capacity to do more work each Sprint. It's likely to be a combination of both.

09:18 pm November 10, 2021

@Ian @Thomas
Thanks for your responses. What would be your approach for Sprint Plannings?