Self-Managed Team Challenges
12 May 2014
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There are many challenges for self-managed teams. First, it is difficult to find five to nine team members who understand Scrum properly and are professional in nature.
What I have learned is from my experience in development. Teams are mainly like this: One of the guys has five to seven years of experience and everyone else has just one to five, to reduce the cost of production. Due to this team formation, the ScrumMaster mostly deals with the lead-level resource and the rest of the team members don't turn into a self-managed team, which, in turn, is a big risk for the success of the Scrum implementation.
Given this sort of team formation, it is very important to mentor its members about what Scrum means by the expression "self-managed team." In particular, two key meetings bear discussion:
Daily Scrum meeting
This meeting would end up as a status meeting if the development team were not self-managed. They would fail to identify and remove impediments, which is dangerous, turning Scrum implementation into a toss-up. In order to not to fall into this situation, team members should be continually mentored and guided to discuss what they did yesterday, what they are planning to do today, and any potential impediments they see. In addition to that, they have to be guided to listen to what other people are saying, which will help them identify impediments at the earliest opportunity.
The review meeting could turn into a demo meeting where the team showcases the product according to product owner and stakeholder desire, then immediately starts working on the comments given in that review meeting. To avoid falling into this situation, the development team member mind-set should be cultivated so that they don't feel that comments during the review always point out "mistakes" and so start working on changes immediately, without recognizing the highest-priority work needed by the product owner.
If assigned work is finished early/late: In this case, team members will take a rest and do nothing. They have to be mentored to understand and raise issues like this in the daily Scrum meeting, so that each can help someone else who has a heavier load -- or ask for and receive the help needed to ease his or her own load.
If the team is not self-managed, then it will not be a cross-functional team and thus it will be difficult for its members to help each other effectively. So the team should be guided to develop cross-functional skills. Ideally, team members should be eager to work on other functional areas so they can expand their abilities.
If the team is not self-managed, there will be many unplanned leaves and no ground rules set for handling them, putting sprint completion at risk. During product backlog refinement, no good work can be expected for size estimation of new stories, and hence release planning will not be accurate.
These are some of the biggest challenges I have seen teams struggle with when they are not self-managed and self-organized.
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