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Applying Scrum to non-cross functional Teams?

Last post 08:22 am October 7, 2022 by René Gysenbergs
6 replies
08:50 pm October 6, 2022

Hi All,

My work made a pretty big deal about getting staff previously performing Project Manager roles certified as Scrum Masters not too long ago, which we did. After which I was a bit shocked to uncover that the team I was going to be assigned as scrum master for consisted entirely of Product Managers, led by 2 PO's. To exacerbate the problem the team is made up of 3 different product portfolios, which are loosely related at best. 

I initially enjoyed the challenge of adapting scrum to work for them, ultimately improving team efficiency and their Agile Maturity Assessment Score whilst still meeting stakeholder requirements. Modifying scrum can only get you so far though and although I've mitigated issues as best I could, we are still fundamentally flawed in that for almost any given story there are multiple external teams that we have dependencies on before a story can be moved to done (E.g. Legal, Marketing, Engineering, IT, etc).  As of July this year, I was assigned as SM for a separate team....also consisting almost entirely of product managers!?

I know the scrum guide states that "Scrum Teams are cross-functional, meaning the members have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint", therefore I'm not really using Scrum. I was wondering if anyone else had been put in a similar situation? Are there other Agile frameworks that may be more suitable for this situation? Thought I'd check with you guys before going on the warpath with work.


09:48 pm October 6, 2022

It sounds as though the cross-team dependencies are quite apparent, to the point that you may not really have a team at all, along with the resulting issues you have tried to mitigate.

Is this how team members choose to self-organize for value delivery, or is the arrangement someone else's bright idea?


09:58 pm October 6, 2022

the team I was going to be assigned as scrum master for consisted entirely of Product Managers, led by 2 PO's.

Hello Michael,

Could you please give more information about what the tasks are of a Product Manager in your company?
At this moment I really can't understand why there's a team of Product Managers and why they are led by Product Owners?

Product Managers focus on the product’s vision, company/busines objectives, and the market.
Product Owners are accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team.
 


10:53 pm October 6, 2022

Hi Rene

Well on one team a large amount of their work is considered Run The Business Or Product Lifecycle activities. Things such as updating costs, regulatory items etc, but they also do work pertaining to expanding products in new countries, lots for RFP (ready for promotion) RFS (Ready for Service) work.

The other team is focused on simplifying and exiting products, it's almost like they are using Product Managers in this instance to do a Project Managers role. Assess pro's and con's of exiting a product, determine impacts, create plan, do relevant comms etc.

 


10:56 pm October 6, 2022

Is this how team members choose to self-organize for value delivery, or is the arrangement someone else's bright idea?

Some else's idea, the result of my very large company's "Agile Transformation", so far from the people I've asked, no one can tell me why all these non-cross functional teams are running scrum.


06:09 am October 7, 2022

Perhaps that's where you ought to start. Going on the "warpath with work" as you put it might begin by wondering about such things:

("Help me to understand...")

("Please can you explain this to me...")

Encourage a train of thought. Shine a light, but not in a harsh way. Remember that it's easier for an organization to change its Scrum Master than it is for an organization to change itself.


08:22 am October 7, 2022

Hello Michael,

I've read your post from ""10:53 pm October 6, 2022" and to be honest I really don't see how pure Scrum can add value to this.

Don't get me wrong, there are elements you can use from Scrum, such as the Scrum Events, and the two Backlogs (although these Backlogs would be more subject to changes compared to IT development), but there wouldn't be 1 Increment. Maybe two to three PM's would be working on the same body of value and a the other PM's would be working on their  seperate piece of value.

And I still don't understand why such a Team should be "led by PO's".

Like Ian said:

"Encourage a train of thought. Shine a light, but not in a harsh way. Remember that it's easier for an organization to change its Scrum Master than it is for an organization to change itself."


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