Training Series - Scrum Master From the Trenches (Part-1)
Behind the Scenes : Navigating the Hurdles of Agile Teams
I’m Vibhor, and welcome to the 🔒 subscriber-only edition 🔒 of my weekly Training Series powered by Winning Strategy.
This week’s training - Navigating the Hurdles of Agile Teams (Part-1)
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On to this week’s training.
Remember that time when your team was so close to missing a deadline because of a tiny hiccup you didn't see coming? We've all been there. It's like when you're baking a cake and forget the baking powder - everything seems fine until it doesn't rise in the oven.
Below are 10 of the stories I have collected from the Scrum teams I worked with in the past who faced such challenges.
There's a lot you can learn from these stories. By hearing them, you might find new ways to tackle your own team's challenges.
Let’s get started.
1. The Inter-Team Dependency Dilemma
As I was observing the daily stand-up, I noticed a tense atmosphere in the room.
Two developers from my team, the "Phoenix" team, expressed their frustration about a delay caused by another team, "Orion" (The names of the teams are changed for privacy).
We were heavily dependent on an API that the Orion team was developing, and with the sprint's end looming, it seemed we wouldn't be able to meet our commitments.
Upon investigating, I discovered that the Orion team was unaware of the urgency of our request. They had prioritized another feature, thinking that the API we needed was for a future sprint. This was compounded by the fact that our sprints weren't synchronized, leading to a mismatch in priorities.
What needed to be fixed:
Communication Gaps: My team had not clearly communicated the importance and timing of our dependency on the Orion team.
Lack of Alignment: Both teams operated on different sprint schedules, leading to misaligned priorities.
No Established Protocols: There was no formal process in place for handling inter-team dependencies.
What I did:
I reached out to the Scrum Master of the Orion team to discuss the problem and explore a potential quick resolution.
Organized a joint meeting between members of both teams to address the immediate concerns and clarify timelines and deliverables.
Proposed that teams with significant interdependencies, like Phoenix and Orion's, synchronize sprint start and end dates to ensure aligned planning.
Later, I collaborated with other Scrum Masters in the organization to devise a protocol for inter-team dependencies. This led to the creation of a "Dependency Matrix" that would be a focal point during sprint planning.
I also introduced a bi-weekly "Scrum of Scrums". This meeting involved representatives from each team and served as a platform to discuss ongoing work, dependencies, and potential blockers.
Why it worked:
By immediately connecting with the Orion team's Scrum Master, the issue was acknowledged and prioritized.
Organizing a joint meeting promoted transparency and direct communication, which is often the first step to resolving misunderstandings and aligning objectives.
Synchronizing sprint schedules tackled the structural flaw that could have led to recurrent problems. Introducing a formal protocol and the Dependency Matrix added clarity and predictability, transforming an ad-hoc process into a streamlined one.
Lastly, by establishing regular "Scrum of Scrums" meetings, a platform was created for continuous dialogue, ensuring that potential challenges would be addressed promptly.
Note: I will share the Dependency Matrix in a future post.