- Posted by dan on May 21, 2011
We've been doing scrum now for over 2 years. It's brought about numerous changes all for the better. It's simply so much better than waterfall it's night and day.
But there's something I feel we've overlooked or misunderstood or just simply isn't right. The core purpose of the team seems to be simply Estimate and deliver. We tend to be presented with solutions or if they're problems there's a steer to a particular solution. This isn't to say we don't adapt when things don't quite work out how they were intended we do, but we try and stay on the original path as close as we can.
Customer focused or Customer focused
We all agree that it's vital that businesses be customer focused. Every course you can go on stresses how important it is that we do what the customer wants. Internally this often translates to a business customer from another department who we're trying to deliver business value to. But what about the end users, your companies customers what about them? Business customers tend to have a target or some goal that they must achieve. They become the teams Product Owner and off we go to solve their problems. Only are we losing sight of the end users goals and motivations?
Problems and Solutions
One of the problems we often face as a team, is that the product owner often comes with what is in effect a solution, which we then need to implement and deliver. You could question whether the problem is a concern of the team that are implementing the solution. What generally transpires is that a strategic direction is set. Then various people discuss what can be done to progress in that direction. Goals are set vague solutions are formed. People often have to go through considerable effort to get an idea through to the point where it's brought to the delivery team.
Then the negotiation starts on how the solution be implemented. Compromises are made on both sides in the name of lowering cost and risk whilst also delivering the solution as quickly as possible. It may be that when the originator of the solution sees what their ideas has morphed into it's unrecognisable to them. It may be better it may be worse, but certainly it won't quite be what they envisaged.
Inceptions and Interactions
We've found that holding an inception for any large piece of work, has real benefits. Firstly it conveys the vision and there within the problem that we're trying to solve. Then everyone's freely able to ask questions to probe the problem domain and suggest solutions. It may be that a solution has already been decided upon, so really they whole inception is really just to bring the team onboard, but it gets the team buy-in which is all important when it's the team that will be delivering this solution.
Unfortunately inceptions don't seem to happen, for what could be termed as regular small changes, or quick wins. It tends to be an endless sea of little changes, with some benefit and even completely logical thinking, but teams morale dips as they're simply not involved in the problem solving. It's not their solution. They're there simply to estimate and deliver.
The answer here is to have a vision. If people are bought into the end goal and they think that this move will head in the right direction to meet that goal, they're more forgiving of not having had input into solving the problem. But be sure to be open to everyone's ideas about how best to achieve the vision.