Our Way Outs – New Person, New Learnings In Our Scrum Team

Since two months we got a dedicated UI UX talent in our scrum team. Let us call him Ron. Previously we had a person who was handling the UI UX for multiple scrum teams. He was working more like an independent talent.  Let us call him Michael.

We used to queue up the work for Michael which required his attention and waited for him to get the time to have a look into those. In this approach of working the feedback loop was quiet long along with many other challenges.

So this time we tried to do an experiment. We tried to get a dedicated person for the UI UX within our scrum team in order to have the opportunity for all of us to learn and work together as one scrum team.

But wait !

This was a series of changes for our team. Previously our scrum team was not actively involved in the UI UX ideation and designing phase. We usually used to get a prototype at the end of few weeks or sometimes few months. Most of the time since the arrival of prototypes were already delayed and Michael was always pre-occupied with work from other teams we avoided discussions on the shared prototype as much as possible.  We used to build it as received.

Now with the inclusion of Ron we are able to participate right from the ideation phase. This change is welcomed by our team and at the same time its frowned upon from time to time. Having a new person in the team is itself a big change. And changing the way we are working is an addition to it. Let me share some challenges of these changes and our ways out of it

Challenge 1: Ron is new to the field of user experience and user interface. This is his first team to work with for UI UX. So it was a learning phase for Ron. The challenge was in accepting that there is a need for learning.

Way out: It is not possible to have the mindset of acknowledging our shortcomings or our knowledge gaps in 1 day or 1 week. It is a continuous process of subtle realisations about where we lack and where we need to catch up. Most of us has unknown conginitive biases which prevents us from growing.

Our way out of this challenge was instead of letting Ron learn on his own we joined him. We acknowledge the fact that we as a team never tried to be involved in the UI UX of our application. We were more concerned about the coding practices and the technologies used. So this time we decided to take the opportunity of learning together about UI UX. We started to have brain storming together so that all of us are involved in all the relevant discussions about the user experience or the user interface. Each of the team members to propose ideas and designs. It became a team effort of learning about the customer journeys, user experiences, ideation etc. instead of a single person’s effort. We all were growing together.

Sounds good right?
Not really. Let’s go to the next Challenge

Challenge 2: Within few days of trying to learn together as a team, Ron started to resist perspectives from other team members. He started to challenge every proposed ideas of the other team members. The conflicts within the team started to become more and more personal. We started to deviate from our purpose of learning as a team.

Way out: Making yourself vulnerable to your team members is a choice which we can make. For creating an environment which allows people to trust each other and show your vulnerability, it takes time.

Changing many factors all at once is often too much disruptive. Trying to learn something new with a new team and a new way of working is already enough overwhelming. Overcoming this challenge was difficult than the previous. Our way out of this challenge was to prioritize building relation with Ron over sharing our feedback or perspectives on the work. Once we had the psychological safety created and a positive environment that encouraged the gaps to be addressed, slowly things started to fall in place.

Challenge 3: Amongst all these, after certain time the other team members lost their willingness to learn more about user experience and user interface

Way out: It takes effort to be willing to go out of our comfort zone and learn new things. When we take our first few baby steps of learning something new, if we face some restrictions or continuous hurdles we will always tend to fall back to our old days where we are happy doing what we are good at. Like the developers developing code or the tester testing the application etc. It’s not an anomaly. This behavior is natural.

To encourage ourselves to choose courage of learning new things over the comfort of doing things that we are habituated to do, we started to have more discussions on the importance of UI UX to complete our work of having happy customers. We re-established our focus on customer. Every decision we made, we made by keeping the North star of Happy Customers in our minds. Initially it seemed to be difficult. But we made our way out 🙂

Lessons learnt

  1. When we design some experiment, we should be trying to limit disruptions and allow people to learn. Changing too many factors all at once often risks the experiment itself.
  2. Having a cordial relation often helps in overcoming many challenges
  3. Psychological safety is a basic requirement for a person to give his or her best
  4. Learning new things requires effort and encouragement
  5. The North Star always guides us to find our way out of the challenges

Conclusion

We keep having daily challenges in our life.  It is inevitable. If we focus too much on the problems we might lose our perspectives on the probable solutions. As Einstein said “ We cannot resolve a problem by using the same thinking that create it”.

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