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A Visual Communication Panel for Scrum

How a visual panel helped a Scrum team solve its communications problems

30 March 2015

André Lima
OpenIT Business

The adoption of Scrum involves a lot of changes for development teams who are used to Waterfall methods. Sometimes the communication between the team members can be the worst problem as they try to make these changes. Each team member often works alone, so some team communication problems can remain hidden in a Waterfall work environment. And if this environment doesn't have ways to handle with those problems (or even allow us to see them), the migration to Agile/Scrum will hurt -- a lot.

I'd like to talk about the adoption of Scrum in a team that had spent recent years working on software development projects using only Waterfall methods. This team did not have the habit of revealing their problems during the projects. And during the team's first experience working on a Scrum sprint, this didn't change. Even after being taught that one of the main reasons for Daily Scrum meetings is to expose problems, the team avoided this situation.

Observing and talking with them a little more, we discovered that they were afraid to expose themselves. They were afraid to hurt someone else's feelings or be scolded. Obviously it was a work environment problem, aggravated by a failure of management.

So we proposed the use of a panel that would allow to team members to communicate their problems or ideas without identification. This panel (based on a presentation performed at Scrum Gathering Rio) was divided into four parts. In the first quadrant, team members could write what they consider works well for the team and should continue working. In the second quadrant, they could post what wasn't working and should be resolved. In the third quadrant, they could describe new ideas for the team. And they could use the fourth quadrant to recognize helpful or successful team members or actions.

Probably you'll ask. "Why should this do anything different for that team?" Because the point was they didn't want to publicly voice their opinions. And this is just what this panel would ensure for them.

The frequent use of this tool opened new ways for the team to talk among themselves about what arose in that panel, and it helped each learn the opinions of the others. A new environment began grow around this team. This new environment allowed them to expose problems without fear. In fact, company management was affected by this change too. Now the company was able to learn of and act on real problems it was facing.

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.

Article Rating

Current rating: 3.7 (6 ratings)


Nikhil Mustilwar, CSM, 4/2/2015 1:31:59 AM
Hi Andre,

Really a nice way of ice breaking. This helps where the work culture or environment is not really healthy.
Frédéric Ferrant, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 4/8/2015 9:13:03 AM
I like the idea. Might also give it a try to gather info throughout the Sprint as input for our next Retrospective (which still isn't easy for the team).

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