Back to Basics (The Scrum Team vs. The Team)

Recently I’ve taken the new Scrum self-assessment available at scrum.org.

I have seen many people missing some basic answers and that got me concerned about the knowledge on the basics of Scrum in general. At this moment, the average score of the assessment is at 78 with a standard deviation of 6.5.

With this in mind, and having scored on the 95 percentile myself, to me, a surprise, I decided to step back from the “Team Series” I was writing and start a series addressing some of the basic concepts, and maybe help people that are starting and eager to learn.

Also, I advise the reading of the scrum.org Scrum Guide for very valueable information.

The Scrum Team is the set that has all the basic roles necessary to use Scrum in a project. The Scrum Team is composed of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Team.

There is no formal management role in Scrum. The Scrum Team shares responsibilities for the project. The traditional management position has it’s responsibilities split among the Team, The PO (Product Owner) and the SM (Scrum Master).

The Team in a Scrum Team is composed of the guys that will actually build the product. This should be a heterogeneous group of people with all the skills necessary to deliver the goal of the project.

The Scrum Team should be composed of 7 people plus or minus 2. The Team in turn should be composed of 5 people plus or minus 2.

The Team is responsible for planning how to meet the goal of each Sprint, monitoring and optimizing the work to meet the Sprint goal daily, monitoring and increasing productivity, resolving its internal conflicts.

The Team works on backlog items until there are done, accordingly to what they told the Product Owner they would do.

The Team is required to participate in all of the Scrum ceremonies. They need to be in both parts of the Sprint Planning, in the Daily Scrums, in the Sprint Reviews and in the Sprint Retrospective.

Only the Team in a Scrum Team can determine how to deliver the product. They are the ones with the skills to deliver and they are responsible for the how. The Team itself is responsible for its own destiny. As they self-manage to deliver the Sprint items, they are responsible for their success or doom.

The Sprint Backlog is owned by the Team. They decide what are the tasks in it, and they update its status.

The Team communicates directly with the Product Owner and other people needed to build the product. There is no need for anyone to act as a go-between for Team members.

The Team should act with diligence and sense of urgency. As an example, whenever a change is needed on the plan for the Sprint, represented by the Sprint Backlog, the change should be done and tasks added or removed as soon as the need is identified, immediately.

The Team decides when it is appropriate to change to update the Sprint Backlog during a Sprint. The Team is the owner of the Sprint Backlog. The SM and the PO do not own the Sprint Backlog.

The Team is responsible for estimating tasks together. The PO and SM have no say in the estimations. The Poker Planning is one of the ways of getting all of the Team members to participate in the estimation process.

The Team should not develop a full plan for the whole project nor should nail down the whole architecture and infrastructure upfront. The Team should leverage Scrum’s Empirical way to its advantage.

The Team should adjust its use of engineering practices whenever needed.

The Team in a Scrum Team is very different than the teams in a command-and-control structure. In Scrum, The Team is empowered to do its job.

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2 Responses to “Back to Basics (The Scrum Team vs. The Team)”

  1. Bruno Pereira Says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you gathered here in this post, but I think there’s an important thing to note.

    Sadly, self management and empowerment doesn’t match everyone’s culture and mindset. There are many people who’ll wait for instructions by default. This mindset is bad, of course, but it’s something widespread among many professionals.

    The true challenge to improve any team’s performance is to have everyone with the same “self managed” mindset.

    A Scrum team has the power to do what it takes in order to deliver. The big difference-maker is to have every team member acting according to that. This is the dream goal of true self managed professionals. And it’s my own dream :)

  2. csvo Says:

    Bruno, this is very well put. The “command and control” way is widespread in many different aspects of our culture.
    Doing Scrum requires a cultural change, it needs a mature way of thinking where the problems and the solutions are not externalized from the person. People need to know that they are capable and need to gain confidence on that capacity. It is hard, takes time, but, just like Obama said :-) “Yes, we can!”

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