The simple tips we discuss in this article can SIGNIFICANTLY improve your team’s ability to GET WORK DONE!

Even today in 2020, teams work more ineffectively than they would like to admit. A lot of time is wasted in miscommunication, unclear expectations, lost opportunities, and unwanted interruptions. With a few simple tips (or, perhaps, rules), ANY team can see improvement in outcomes. They can produce more VALUE and spend LESS TIME doing it.

With the COVID-19 virus forcing us all to learn about working from home, we at Artisan thought this would be a good time to re-publish our updated list of “Jim’s 10 Tips for Scrum Development Teams.” These tips aren’t RULES — you don’t HAVE to do them — but you will find that they can make a huge difference. If properly and consistently executed, you will find your team…

  • COMPLETELY focused on their Sprint Goal,
  • COLLABORATING in ways they’ve never tried before, and
  • CRUSHING the work planned in the Sprint!
  1. USE DEADLINES – Set deadlines for yourself. If you say you’re going to do it, hold yourself accountable for getting it done. When you commit to doing something, make a habit of repeating it back to the team, including when you expect to finish it, so that everyone is on the same page.
  2. SET EXPECTATIONS – Set high expectations for yourself as a team. We don’t cut corners. We show up on time. Everyone is kept well-informed. Commitments to communicate mean we will communicate. If the daily Scrum is held at 10am, everyone is there, every day. No excuses. If you need to clear your schedule to accommodate another team member, do it.
  3. STAY FOCUSED – As a team, pick the one or two product backlog items you’re going to attack today and do them. As an individual, plan your three priorities for the day and try to ensure that NO ONE gets in the way of getting them done – work with your team; ask everyone else to wait until a more appropriate time. Meaningful work gets done in FOCUSED blocks of time, not five minute slices in between interruptions. Every interruption DOES NOT need to be addressed immediately.
  4. BE CLEAR – Use your daily Scrum to be REALLY clear what you plan to work on next (and then do it — see “high expectations”). Also, use your daily Scrum to show appreciation for the work of other team members. If someone did something for you (or that somehow helped you out), don’t miss the opportunity to bring it up.
  5. BE EFFICIENT IN MEETINGS – Nobody wants to waste their time, so meetings need to be targeted and effective. ScrumMasters should be trained in meeting facilitation – this makes meetings go faster and be FAR MORE PRODUCTIVE. If your ScrumMaster doesn’t have this training, send them to Artisan’s CSM and/or A-CSM classroom/virtual/OnDemand training programs.
  6. ASK FOR AND GIVE HELP – When you’re done working on a task, contact the rest of the team (this is when a chat channel of some kind can be useful) to see if anyone needs help. Don’t begin work on a new Product Backlog Item unless no else needs help that you can easily provide. When someone asks for help, help them. If you need help, ask for it; don’t wait around hoping someone will jump if you look like you’re in trouble. Here are some more tips on improving your team’s performance.
  7. ALL FOR ONE – When someone outside the team tries to blame an individual on the team for a problem, explain that the team works together and both succeeds and fails together. Any complaining that needs to be done can be done with the entire team, not a single individual.
  8. BE PSYCHOLOGICALLY SAFE – The first question you should ask if something goes wrong is “how do we fix it?” followed by “what did we learn from it?” The question you should never need to ask is, “who’s fault is it?”
  9. IMPROVE CAPABILITY – “Velocity” is an unimportant metric except for planning the next Sprint and predicting what will be done after several Sprints. We tried this in the 90s — we call it KLOCS, and they were useless then, too. If you really want to make a difference in outcomes, focus on capability and value. Identify missing skills and skills that need to be improved and, as a team, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Artisan Agility offers the Artisan Academy for help with many aspects of Agile Development.
  10. In every retrospective, consider how well the team worked together. Did everyone do what was expected of them? Did everyone KNOW what was expected of them? Consider how to improve any shortcomings that the team identifies. Make sure that at least one action plan from the Retrospective gets planned directly into the next Sprint.

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