Apart from a cross functional team, having a self organized team is one of the key-strength in Scrum.
No one (not even the Scrum Master) will tell a single person in the team on what he needs to do, each person must be active and owning the team, know what to do and organized himself on the things he needs to do.
Each member of the team must also cooperate and communicate each other.
Their must have a single purpose: “Achieving the Sprint Goal”
Sounds great, right? It’s a dream team!
Every organizations will “kill” to have that kind of team.
However, it’s not easy.
Took processes, time, effort and patience to achieve it.
I will share some of my experiences with my Scrum Teams in this article.
What is a self organized team?
Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team.
The Scrum Guide
Well, that’s what the scrum guide said about a self organized team.
More of it, for me, a self organized team is a team that:
- not waiting for task to be assigned to them.
- manage task management (allocation, estimation, delivery, etc) as a team
- knowing what they need to do and where to search for support if they find impediments
- communicate actively each other
- can continue the work even though the Scrum Master is not available
How to build a self organized team?
Having a self organized team is like having children who can do their own school and home task while their parents are working.
To setup that kind of situation in a family will definitely take time. Some values need to be influenced in their mind, turn the task into habit and habit into lifestyle.
That’s exactly what a Scrum Master needs to do to a development team. Scrum Master needs to support the team in such way so the team can learn to self organize themselves.
Below are the things that I did with my Scrum Teams in order to groom them into a self organized team.
What I learned from teaching my kids to handle their own tasks was that I must learn to trust them.
At the beginning, I gave instructions, told them what needs to be done and how to do it.
After that, I need to trust them. Trust them that they can do it right.
Same thing in a Scrum team. At the beginning, Scrum Master would need to tell the team how agile works, how the concept of a Scrum team is, what they need to do when they find impediments.
After ee that, Trust is the key. By giving them trust, they will learn that they can do things on their own and they will learn that they are important and have a big deal in the team success.
A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected
The quote says it all. Show appreciation on the team’s hardwork.
There are lots of way to appreciate the team.
In the organization I work on, we have a happiness door, we can put post it there to show the things we are happy about (and also things that we are not happy about). You can put the appreciation there.
Another way to show appreciation is by saying it in IT regular meeting, in front of other teams, or you can say it in a retrospective meeting.
Be creative. The point is, when you really appreciate them from your heart, they will know it and I believe it will make them performing better.
What I learned from one of the Scrum team I currently involve in, when the team sits nearby, they will collaborate easier.
They can communicate easier, whenever they find issue, they can just communicate directly to the other team member.
There will be moments when your team’s spirit is down and they will start to reduce their self organizing activity.
Your part here is to encourage them. Remind them of what they had accomplished in the past and the result for doing that.
Use the daily stand up and retrospective event for that or you can talk individually to the team member who start to loose his spirit. Don’t let that person demotivate others.
Loosing spirit is one of the impendiments, and Scrum Master’s role is to remove impendiments.
Coaching and mentoring
In one of the Scrum Team I was involved in, there were a new team member who never join any Scrum team before.
He didn’t know the concept of self organized team, he’s still carry his old way of work into the Sprint we were running.
For this case, you need to teach the person about the Scrum concept.
Guide the person on what and how he needs to behave, give articles for him to read, and appoint someone from the team to be his role model.
Be patient, in few days he will catch up with the rythm.
Evaluation is also important. I usually do this in the retrospective event.
We will discuss what are the lesson learned from the past sprint, what went well and how to improve it.
You can evaluate their self organized behavior there.
If there are point of improvements, the retrospective event is the perfect time for that.
Building a self organized team is actually building people’s habit. It’s not easy, because you need to shake people out from their comfort zone.
One thing you should keep in mind, people see examples. So you must make sure that you as a Scrum Master also have that in you.
Be patient and persistent. Nothing is unchangeable. Put a little faith in your team.
Every Scrum team has different way to handle. Be flexible. Don’t push the same metod for every team.
Looking forward to see your success story in this article’s comment space 🙂