What makes a great Scrum Team?
In Agile the assumption is that software development is best done in teams. The formation, growth and guidance of teams is essential. In Scrum you no longer bring the people to the work as most project organizations do today. No instead you bring the work to the people! This means that the work is designed for the team.
Agile teams stay together for a longer time span than project teams do. The obvious reason is that groups of people need time to become a real team (If they ever become one). It takes an average of 18 months for a real team to form and become high performing.
As a Scrum Master you play an essential role in the team forming process. The Scrum Master has the job of doing tasks like facilitating conflicts, encouraging fail safe experiments, coaching on social skills and even motivating and inspiring the team members. And the Scrum Master has to do all of this without authority.
What is a team?
A team is a group of people that feel shared responsibility for achieving a goal. A group of people that put the winning of the team above the winning of the individual. A group of people who feel collectively accountable and are responsible for the team’s success with whatever they are trying to achieve. It is a group of people where there is trust and people are comfortable showing their shortcomings and vulnerabilities within the group.
In a good Scrum team there are various opinions on how to attack problems. There is a constant constructive conflict going on where people are challenging the status quo. The goal of the conflict is to learn and come up with a good enough solution at the moment of discussion. The team engages in discussions to seek and use everybody’s intellect and opinion. In a good team everyone is heard and decisions are made based on the team’s collective input.
For teams to succeed the work needs to fit the group of people. One of the things this means is that no single individual is able to succeed on his own!
Linear software development is definitely not a team activity. The goal of producing valuable software is the project manager’s problem. The designer, developer, tester, architect, user experience engineer and analyst are able to succeed individually! All kinds of gates like Test Gates and misused Definition Of Ready make it possible for individuals to succeed while the ‘team’ fails!
In Agile a team task taps into the intrinsic motivation of people. That is because team tasks give frequent feedback of real progress (valuable software) and therefore gives meaning to the work people are doing. It is the fact that the team is working on a complete piece of functionality, experiences frequent feedback on progress and value with the possibility of deciding how to do the work that increases accountability.
The best Scrum Teams are self designing. The Product Owner, ScrumMaster and The Development Team decide on the direction of the product, decide how to do the work, who does the tasks, measure & monitor their own progress, decide which people and resources are needed and use everyones intellectual capabilities!