With three key roles in Scrum, active planning for who will take up their responsibilities, particularly due to leave, is critical to smooth product delivery.
Succession planning is a process and strategy for replacement planning or passing on key roles. It is used to identify and develop people who can move into key roles if and when certain roles become vacant.
Sometimes, you’ll know well in advance if a hard-to-replace team member is going to be on leave, moving to a new role, or even planning retirement. Other times, you’ll be caught off guard by sudden unplanned leave. Does you team know what to do if the Product Owner or Scrum Master is suddenly not with the team?
In Sprint Planning, consider:
Assess potential single points of risk and failure across the whole team. Are there scarce skills that, if a person left, would put the team's delivery at risk? This is a critical question for succession planning.
Once you have a handle on the ripple effect that the departure of your critical roles might cause, choose team members who could potentially step into those roles.
In Sprint Planning, discuss:
While the obvious successor to a role may be the person who is immediately next in line in the organisational chart, don’t discount other promising employees. Look for people who display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current title.
In Sprint Planning with the whole team:
In Sprint Planning:
In the Retrospective:
Don’t wait until there’s a crisis to test whether a person has the right skills and motivation to assume the demands of Scrum’s key roles.
In your Retrospective:
1. Adapted from: Half, R. (2021) What Is Succession Planning? 7 Steps to Success. Online at: https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/7-steps-to-building-a-succession-plan-for-success
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