I just returned from the Scrum Alliance Global Scrum Gathering in New Orleans. This was an excellent conference and I learned many new things. Also, practices that I use regularly were expanded and important details were added to my knowledge base.
My next few blog posts will outline some of the things I found important. I will also provide links to books and vendor products I found interesting.
I have divided my comments into three categories,The Team, The Product and The Scrum Master. This post is about the team.
I learned as much from the people attending the conference as I did from the session speakers. This was especially true with the team.
The term T-Shaped Skills was used to describe a cross functional team. The diagram below depicts cross functional ability in an easy to understand manner.
Many times the notion of handling different team dysfunctions and personality types came up. A common idea is to have the team come up with a solution. A tangible way to do this is to have the team come up with Working Agreements and Ground Rules. Since the team came up with the details, when a rule or agreement is broken, it is easy to remedy.
Teams are often uncomfortable trying new things. In this case it is good to point out that we are not sure this will work and that we will Run an Experiment to see. This makes people more comfortable with the unknown.
Distributed teams are becoming more common. This is not just because of offshore teams. More and more firms have their employees spread across the USA.
The points below were mentioned as ways to ease the pain with distributed teams:
- Tools – there are a number of tools available that allow distributed teams to work better together. See the section on Vendor Solutions below for the tools that were mentioned.
- Google Spreadsheet – this was mentioned as a collaboration tool because when multiple users work on a single document, the change is annotated with the user’s name in real time.
- Skype – one person mentioned that they have a computer on and available at each remote location at all times. This allows for easy adhoc meetings when a few people need to meet.
- Big Monitors Everywhere – one of the best way to provide transparency is to hang or draw burn down charts and other agile artifacts on the wall. With distributed teams, this is not possible. It was agreed that having the charts “available” in a tool is not sufficient. One attendee mentioned that he had big monitors in all locations displaying the agile artifacts.
I will follow up this post soon with points about The Product and The Team.