How Every ScrumMaster Should Deal With Attention Issues?

Ever been part of a team where team members didn’t pay attention to what was being communicated?

Yes, in Scrum teams also that happens. Especially in the Daily Stand-ups.

Team members don’t always pay attention to what other team member is saying.

Most people get this habit from their daily lives. They go to doctor and while talking to them, they’re checking their BlackBerry. The same people go to restaurant with their spouse and spend more time with their mobile device than their spouse.

They are just like that. Involved in something else when they’re with someone else.

No wonder that kind of people would want to do the same even when they are part of a scrum team.

That’s not acceptable.

As ScrumMaster, you must coach every team member about importance of attention.

Conversations are most important tools in agile frameworks. They get your work done. And you can’t have a conversation without your team members listening to one another with 100% of their attention.

Listening with intent and with 100% attention is what makes Scrum team successful. That becomes and impediment if not resolved early.

Non-listening frustrates people and they tend to lose interest in the project.

Scrum team members are also human beings with their strengths and weaknesses. Scrum team is a committed team and commitment works when every team member trusts and respects one another.

If that does not happen then Scrum processes might still be there but there won’t be a Scrum team.

As a ScrumMaster, coach your team members to listen. Re-state and coach again and again so that they get why it is important.

Your conversations show who you are. Let your conversations say you’re committed. Let the whole team get it sooner than later. If not, then you’re not doing the right job of a ScrumMaster.

When Scrum Works?

Last week I wrote a post called “When Not To Use Scrum?”

Objective of that post was to highlight some of the situations in which Scrum may not be that effective. Nothing is perfect in this world; Scrum is no exception.

It doesn’t have to be.

Most important thing is to know when Scrum works and when it doesn’t and make the best use of it when it works. As I always say, “Scrum is a vehicle, not a destination.”

So here come some situations that are favorable for making a Scrum implementation successful.

  1. Scrum implementation in your organization has got conscious top-management buy-in.
  2. Top management would like to take the cost of implementing “pull” systems over “push” systems. Such costs may be huge in the beginning.
  3. Hiring process is updated to hire people who are strong team players. If a person is great individual contributor but not a team player, s/he is not the right fit for a Scrum team.
  4. Performance Appraisal systems are updated to evaluate team performance rather than individual performance
  5. Scrum teams are made of people who are level 3+ according to Maslow’s need theory who would inherently love to self-organize.
  6. People have high respect for one another regardless of their different, individual opinions or point of views.
  7. People work on one and only one project at a time.
  8. People “pull” the work, no manager is required to “push” the work and get things done by constant follow up.
  9. People understand the definition of “done” – and they commit to it. If they need external forces (aka “manager”) then it is unlikely to work.
  10. Organization’s value system is based on doing right kind of “less” compared doing generally “more” in all that they do.
  11. People are ready to rise beyond their individual title such as Technical Leader, Business Analyst or Senior Engineer and work as a team member who is driven internally, not by any external thing such as title.
  12. People work at a sustainable pace – they have good work life balance and most important, they value it and consider organization as a valued partner in this.
  13. The person playing the role of “The Product Owner” works on only one project and always owns the priority of the features to be developed.
  14. Everyone involved understands that Scrum is a mind-set not a methodology.

Scrum works when people implementing it make it work. Remember, Scrum never succeeds or fails; people implementing Scrum do.