Part of a Scrum Master’s role is to support people in the agile team to:
New agile teams can fail to form as a team when:
Agile teams work best when they are self-managing. Their focus isn't on individual tasks, like development or testing, writing copy or publishing social media posts, but what will it take to deliver an Increment of value to users and stakeholders.
This way of working can be hard for people who are used to just 'getting on' with their own work and not helping others with a focus on achieving team-level goals.
Helping the team work in this way involves improving the cross-functionality of the team. This is one of the Scrum Master's key areas of resonsibility.
When the software development work is finished there is always temptation to just start the next User Story. Instead, support everyone to brainstorm what’s needed to get the work that’s in-progress to Done BEFORE new work is started.
Create work for the team and then support the team to come up with a plan of who does what tasks and when.
Support and coach managers to set goals and Product Owners to manage the work that’s needed to achieve those goals.
Stop tracking tasks. Track and report on progress toward goals. Agile OKRs may also help here.
Agile teams don’t have BA Stories, Test Stories or UX Stories.
In the transition to team-based work, many people ask "where are my BA stories" or "where are the UX stories"? This is because they are used to seeing their work explicitly represented rather than working as a team on an outcome.
Best practice is to write Product Backlog items from the perspective of the user or stakeholder. It defines who they are, their context, needs, and what they want to get out of the feature you’re building or the service you’re providing:
As a care giver
I want to see a list of service providers
So that I can make an informed decision within my budget
With this perspective, a cross-functional team then works together to plan its delivery:
This approach to writing the work for the team helps create:
Teams perform better if the goals that guide work are clear, specific, and challenging rather than vague, ambiguous, and unchallenging. Goals activate motivational mechanisms that stimulate performance. Four stimulating mechanisms are: direction, effort, perseverance, and strategy (Latham & Locke, 1991, 2013).
Reinforce the team’s focus on its goals during each of the Sprint’s events:
Agile teams are cross-functional, meaning the members have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint. They are also self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how.
Agile teams are designed so they don’t have to rely on people outside of the team to deliver value. Relying on people outside the team to, for example, approve work or provide quality assurance, delays the delivery of value.
Cheney, G., Christensen, L. T., Zorn, T. E., Ganesh, G. (2011). Organizational communication in an age of globalization: Issues, reflections, practices (2nd ed., pp. 215–251). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Delarue, A., Van Hootegem, G., Procter, S., Burridge, M. (2008). Teamworking and organizational performance: A review of survey-based research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 10, 127–148.
Loerakker, B., and Kirsten van de Grift, K. (2015). The effectiveness of self-managed teams and self-leading teams measured in performance , quality of work life and absenteeism
Sutherland, J. and Schwaber, K. (2020) The Scrum Guide. The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game.
Van der Hoek, M., Groeneveld, S., Kuipers, B. (2016) Goal Setting in Teams: Goal Clarity and Team Performance in the Public Sector.