Scrum Team: Big Boys Don’t Cry


Have you ever witnessed (or even experienced) a scrum team that had work in Scrum Framework for quite some time but still act like a baby scrum?

I have 🙂
Not in my team, phew… 🙂 But yes…I’ve seen it.

2017-11-16_1756Baby scrum here refers to the condition where the team cannot perform as a self organized team.
They wait for the Scrum Master to feed them with task, remind them to do proper unit test, have no initiative to solve issue among the team, etc.
On the other hand, the team are high talented and skilled people. Their problem is that they can’t (or won’t) manage themselves.

As Scrum Masters, this situation is something we avoid to happen, right?

In this article, I will share some of the things I inspected from other team and how I try to avoid that happen in my team.


Parenting 101

If you already have a child, you will understand this. If not, then use your logic 😀

2017-11-16_1759As a mother of two girls, I always train my daughters to be independent.
I told them that they need to be able to manage themselves because I might not always be there for them (let’s say I die tonight :D).

I’m a working mom, which means I cannot always be there at home to help them with homework and test preparations.
They must be able to prepare their school needs by themselves, and if they have issue with that, they know they can contact me anytime to help them.

You might say, “How old are your daughters? I bet they’re big enough so they can do all those by themselves”
By the time this article is written, my girls are 10 and 5 years old.
With my oldest daughter, this condition started when she was 8 years old.
With my younger daughter, this condition started even when she was not 4 years old yet.

I never think of them as “a little kid”.
I often heard people say “She’s still a little kid, she knows nothing yet” or “It’s okay if she’s acting like this now. She will understand when she’s bigger.”
Well I disagree on that.
Kids are smart! They might have a different level of understanding, but they will understand if we say it with the way they understand things.

What Can I Do With My Scrum Team?

You can always relate the analogy of my daughters in your Scrum Team.

As a Scrum Master, I suggest you to treat your Scrum as adults, even though your team might be new in Scrum.


Teach them to be independent and take responsibility on the sprint backlog they agreed in the Sprint Planning. If they don’t complete the sprint backlogs they agreed on, discuss that in the Sprint Retrospective.

Make an agreement and action plans during Sprint Retrospective to “fix” their behavior in the next Sprint.

Use Daily Scrum to remind them to be self organized.
Skip some Daily Scrum to see whether the Development Team still doing that without you or not. Well… scrum guide says a scrum master doesn’t need to be in Daily Scrum, right? 

You need also make sure the team know that you will be ready to help them with solving impediments even though you’re not always around.
Just like my daughters know that mommy can always help them even though she’s working and comes home late.
But the most important thing is you need to encourage them to find the solution of the issues that block them.

I know that Stakeholders are waiting for the result to be delivered soon, and taking time to educate your team might slow down the product delivery.
But if you don’t start this as soon as possible, you will just planting a time bomb.

Do you want to “Spoon-feed” your team all the time?
I don’t 🙂
Do you want to be busy assigning task to them all the time until you don’t have time to work on the real Scrum Master task?
I don’t 🙂

Have I Done Something Wrong?

Most common root cause I see is that the Scrum Master is worry that the Sprint execution (more to mechanical) is not smooth, the product delivery is not as planned, even worse… The Scrum Master doesn’t believe that the team can perform without him.

It is time to check on the Agile Manifesto.
One part of Agile manifesto said

Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Yes, trust is one of the key in making your team success


The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing team

Which means you need to really encourage your team to be self-organized to make them more powerful.


I believe in “Never too late to start” and “Never to soon to start”

If your team is new in Scrum, don’t hesitate to start as soon as possible.
Push them into the cold water, watch them, guide them, trust them.
There’s no such thing as “Never to soon to start”

If your team have been in Scrum for some time but still act like baby scrum,
start now.
Educate them, give them responsibilities, trust them.
There’s no such thing as “Never too late to start”

All the best for you and your team 🙂

4 thoughts on “Scrum Team: Big Boys Don’t Cry

  1. I always like the kids-adults analogy :). So how do you teach your daughters to self-organize and be independent?

    From a young age, I have always let my boys climb things, play with knifes, just ‘let them go’. If there are other parents around them, they get scared and look at me ‘are you serious, you just let them go?’. And yes I do. And actually it hardly ever goes wrong. Accidents happen exactly when you don’t expect them (not when you let them do something scary). I trust my kids and I also trust that if they fall down somewhere, they’ll learn their own limits.

    It’s the same with adults. Most adults have been raised as kids under ‘protection’ and ‘strong guidance’ of parents. When they become adults, they’re just waiting for someone else to protect and guide them. They’re insecure about their own ‘limits’ and their own potential. So as a leader (=scrum master), you need to bring that trust to them. You need to nurture their self confidence. I always tell my kids ‘you can do it’ (and they get stick of me repeating that line!). Adults can also do more than they think. And once they see the results from doing the things they thought they couldn’t, they grow. That’s what you need to get to have a self-organized scrum team: growth. The main role of the scrum master is to coach the team towards that ideal: confident, self organized, risk-taking team members.


    1. Thanks Hugo

      “So how do you teach your daughters to self-organize and be independent?”
      More or less is same as you. I let them do their own way.

      I give you example:
      They have to prepare things they need to bring to school.
      If they forget and call me to bring that from home to school, I reject that.
      I told their teacher to just go ahead and give them some disciplinary action.

      They have to do their homework and prepare their quiz by themselves.
      If they don’t study and get bad result, it’s okay, they will learn the pain in getting the bad result and do better next time.
      Of course, in the first trial, I did this on daily quiz, not on the final quiz that determine whether they will pass the grade or not.
      After some trials, I know they can manage by themselves, then I really let them go.


      1. I did find some obstacles here. For example: one of my boys can go a full day without food. We also let them pack their own food in the morning, but if we don’t check (or make them check the checklist we made for them to remind them what they need to bring), they sometimes miss taking food. And then he will come home completely pale and hungry. And he’ll say ‘I don’t care’. And he really doesn’t. So how to solve that 🙂

        Or he will go skateboarding for 3 hours without eating and drinking. He simply doesn’t feel thirsty or hungry. But then he gets home and all hell breaks loose. He’ll complain, have no energy and refuse to do any of his chores.

        Sometimes it’s tough to be a parent educating self-responsibility:)


    2. “The main role of the scrum master is to coach the team towards that ideal: confident, self organized, risk-taking team members.”

      Super agree on this


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