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Rally: Assigning Tasks - is that how it is?

Last post 08:19 am June 6, 2013
by Anonymous
13 replies
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03:20 pm June 2, 2013

I am kind of new to Rally - so it could be my mistake in understanding. But while doing the initial planning, I see that the Scrum Masters go ahead & get the tasks assigned to all team members (based on some level of mutual consent). But why do we want to "assign" tasks in the first place? We expect a self-sustainable team, so why impose work, rather let them come & pick it up.
Am I totally off the track? :(

09:31 pm June 2, 2013

I don't think you're off track at all. A worthwhile topic to take up at the team's next retro (or anytime).

Beyond just talking about the preemptive task assignments, you might also reevaluate the role of Scrum Master as a servant leader to the rest of the team.

12:58 am June 3, 2013

Ryan,

Thanks for clarifying my doubt! I truly see that with the speed at which Agile universe is changing, we are missing out the basics at times & being driven by the marketing (e.g. the ALM tools). You bet I am going to raise this as part of the retro! Thanks once again! :)

01:31 am June 3, 2013

Don't ever trust an ALM tool to teach or coach you on Scrum. They all suck at that. Many of them lead you down really bad roads. Instead, trust the Scrum Guide.

02:35 am June 3, 2013

Many teams start off without cross-skilling, and I've seen them "self organise" in ways that are detrimental to achieving this. For example, it's quite common for immature teams to go through the second half of Sprint Planning by identifying tasks on the basis of "I'll do this".

In such circumstances it's tempting for a Scrum Master to go with the flow, especially when the pressure is to deliver and there is little business interest in removing skill silos. My approach is to specifically focus on the skills gap during the identification of tasks, for example by making sure that pairing happens so there can be distribution of at least some knowledge.

I don't know to what extent skill silos are a factor in this case, but the symptom described is a common one. A cross-trained team is a long term goal for many organisations - unfortunately it is only rarely a starting point.

06:53 am June 3, 2013

Yes! Very true! The problem becomes more prominent - when you have too many people - all claiming to have worked on Agile ("been doing Agile delivery for ages" - is a common statement you come across in such situations) & they will ask you to be the Coach - but won't let you drive the way you wish. Funny, but true!
Guess we have all been such states i.e. delegation without authority! :)

12:53 pm June 3, 2013

This is a great conversation, thanks for posting it! I find that we are having similar issues in letting Rally drive our process, rather than the other way around.

I think I'll make this a point of discussion during our next Sprint Planning! :)

01:01 pm June 3, 2013

I'd like to add that I don't think it's entirely evil either. It may well be that the team has come to this consensus that this works well for them at the moment. This maybe have come about as a point in this team's evolution. Getting to a new point requires some experimentation and is almost guaranteed to come with ups-and-downs. The team may not have the skills or experience to self organize around their plan for delivering the sprint goal/forecast.

This is a big challenge for the team and their Scrum Master.

08:06 am June 5, 2013

I think the assigning method is better. The scrum master will be able to judge what piece of work suits whom.

http://www.agiledistributed.com/

10:54 am June 5, 2013

> I think the assigning method is better. The scrum master will be able to judge what piece of work suits whom.

IMO, this statement above reflects a complete misunderstanding of Agile and Scrum. Self Organizing teams means that they create and execute their own plan. It does not mean that they assign work to individuals. Assigning work to individuals is command and control waterfall.

I know quite a few coaches at Rally, and none of them would recommend that the SM assign tasks to individual development team members.

11:00 am June 5, 2013

The scrum master will be able to judge what piece of work suits whom

@alicemenezes,

What is the basis for this belief? There are significant studies that show quite the opposite including, but not limited to, the ones in this list:
http://bitly.com/bundles/cromwellryan/2

11:33 am June 5, 2013

This one's a pretty good one too -- especially when it talks about autonomy:

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6685.html

01:36 pm June 5, 2013

Hi Alice

It's conceivable that a Scrum Master might possibly *advise* a team regarding who does what tasks, if that's what it takes to facilitate an otherwise difficult planning decision. However, he or she certainly wouldn't make the assignment themselves. Even having to provide advice on such a thing is an unlikely scenario. I would be loath to get involved in the decision at all, partly because it should be a team decision, and partly in case my opinion should be misinterpreted as an instruction. A Scrum Master is not in a position to assign work to anybody, and he or she must be careful not to represent themselves otherwise.

08:19 am June 6, 2013

Posted By Charles Bradley - Scrum Coach and Trainer on 05 Jun 2013 10:54 AM
> I think the assigning method is better. The scrum master will be able to judge what piece of work suits whom.

IMO, this statement above reflects a complete misunderstanding of Agile and Scrum. Self Organizing teams means that they create and execute their own plan. It does not mean that they assign work to individuals. Assigning work to individuals is command and control waterfall.

I know quite a few coaches at Rally, and none of them would recommend that the SM assign tasks to individual development team members.

I couldn't agree more! Absolutely correctly said!!!