Who’s who in agile teams?

From Atlassian Blogs January 16, 2014 at 03:00PM

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Agile teams are structurally different than their waterfall counterparts. Agile teams focus on the team itself, where waterfall teams often follow the structure of the organization. In traditional waterfall development scheduling often is “top down,” meaning management sets the pace and schedule. In agile, the team is self organizing, and sets its own schedule and destiny within the larger organization. As I was learning scrum one of the questions that kept coming to mind was, “How do development managers and scrum masters share responsibilities in the team?” In this piece I’ll explore the answer to this question. Waterfall teams vs. scrum teams Most waterfall teams are manager centric. They look to the the manager to set priorities, track progress, and evaluate performance. Agile teams are self-organizing, and  work with a product owner who sets the vision for what should be built, and is not usually in the management chain of the team. The team, through a series of sprints, drives how the product should be built. Self-organizing teams own their destiny. In sprint planning they decide how much work to commit to the sprint, and because of that their level of ownership in the success of the program remains high. Engineers who own their own schedules build products of higher quality more consistently because they own their schedules. Engineers want to build high quality products on time, because everyone in the organization has the same goal. Tuckman’s stages of group development outlines how teams form and thrive. Self-organizing teams are no exception. Mutual trust and candor are essential to well-performing agile teams. Management that continually focuses on hiring the right team is able to trust the team to get the job done. The need then to micromanage every detail of the team’s work becomes vastly reduced. The scrum master and the development manager then protect the team from outside distractions such as feature creep, waterfall anti-patterns, cross functional thrash, or side projects that will compromise the integrity of the sprint. Role 1: Scrum masters Scrum masters are the project leaders in agile teams who focus on optimizing performance of the scrum. Scrum masters work between the product owner and the team ensuring consistent, successful sprints by running stand-ups, and working to reduce blocking issues for the team. Cross-functional thrashing can be costly for teams, so successful scrum masters own cross-team coordination so the core team can focus on product development. This practice keeps everyone efficient and on the same page. The scrum master coordinates most of the inputs and outputs required for an agile program. He or she drives the sprint kickoff, daily stand-ups, sprint review, and sprint retrospective. The scrum master is also an agile coach, helping the team to adopt and own agile practices throughout the product life cycle: story point estimation, sprint planning, and continuous delivery. The coaching aspect of the scrum master’s job is critical; He or she not only helps the team to be agile, but advocates for agile development throughout the organization, and spreads the good word about why agile […]

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