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Soft Measures in Scrum Implementation

19 January 2011

Haim Deutsch
Agile Spirit Ltd. (Former Agile Planet)

Like every good story, this one begins with…

Once upon a time, there was a poor shoe maker living with his wife in a little house.  They did not have much, not a table, not a sofa, and not even a fridge. Their cupboard was empty of goods.

Our shoemaker was hungry, and he wanted the delicious donuts he saw in Dunkin Donuts on his way home. "My dear, what do you say about preparing some donuts this evening" he asked his wife. "With pleasure my husband, but we have no ingredients to do it". "No matter honey, take these two-pence and bring us the ingredients". After some time, his wife returned back home. "I bought some flour to prepare the donuts", "So hurry please, I'm hungry" said the husband. "But I could not buy sugar” said the wife. "No matter, we will do without the sugar", "I could neither buy oil", "let’s make do then without oil, less cholesterol". "I could not buy eggs” said the wife “they were too expensive". "So what, you are able to prepare them without eggs too". The poor woman mixed the flour with water, formed a couple of donuts, and then put them to cook. After five minute she called her husband to the table and brought him the donut-like meal. He tasted them and said, "These donuts are not so tasty, I do not understand what everyone finds so good about donuts!"

Everyone knows the slogan "feelings are facts". However, few people really learn facts by paying attention to the feelings of those around them.

On the other hand, we as Scrum Coaches have to grow our ability to read the feelings of others, and to understand the feelings around us in an organization. By doing this we can learn information about the actual progression of our Scrum implementation, and its health.

I have worked with tens of companies, hundreds of teams and thousands of individuals.  These experiences have taught me a couple of emotional indicators that judge how well Scrum is being implemented that I will share here.

1. By the end of the first sprint, the team members should testify that they feel much more focused on their tasks.

2. After four or five sprints, the team members should show a dramatically improved recognition of how their time is spent. They should complain about meetings running too long, they should show up at meetings on time, they will require a meeting agenda that ensures they don't flow off topic, and they will not stay later than the planned meeting duration.

3. The team develops a feeling of pride in their specific team. When asked, each team will say that they are the best team in the company, the most unified, the most productive, the most focused, and the one that is helping the other teams the most.

4. Are testers feeling fully accepted by the team, feeling like an organic part of the team, are they feeling team spirit?

5. When asked, teams and PO's say that they feel much closer to one another. They should feel that past conflicts are being moved on from, creating space for real cooperation.

6. SM's take pride in their team accomplishments; they feel appreciated by the team. They feel responsible for the good feelings of their teams and positivity at work. They feel courage to help their teams remove obstacles.

7. Teams, SM's and PO’s report an improved feeling of consciousness. Consciousness of their capabilities, of their responsibilities, of their strengths and their weakness.

And you, the coach, have to feel love to your trainees all along their journey. Listen to their feelings, and try to answer the question: do they feel that the donut is worth the price?

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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