5 Tips for Using Scrum with Your Team
Your team may already be using Scrum to operationalize and effectively manage products or projects. Or, let’s be honest, you may be using Scrum to ineffectively manage products or projects. Or perhaps you’re not using Scrum at all. Hopefully, this article will help those in the first category do so even more effectively, those in the second category find ways to improve, and those in the third category get an idea of why Scrum might be effective for your teams, or where to begin the process of inputting Scrum into your workflow.
For those with no basic understanding of Scrum, we recommend you begin by exploring the Scrum Guide, a free online compendium that explains what Scrum is and how it works: the nitty and the gritty.
In short, Scrum is a method for organizing agile teams to optimally confront, iterate upon, and solve design or development challenges. Whether you’re using Scrum well or not super-well, here are some things you can do to ensure you’re using it right:
1. Stand up!
The Daily Scrum—that quick, 15-minute meeting that is meant to set the tone for every Scrum workday—can quickly become another burdensome apparatus that bores your team and slows down innovation. Part of what makes the Daily Scrum so effective as a meeting is that it’s quick and to the point. So how can you make sure it stays that way? Well, no physical gesture is more calibrated to keep us on our toes than...literary standing on our feet. So try it. We promise: no one (least of all you) will want to stand for more than 15 minutes!
2. Stay Focused
In our age of constant iteration and innovation, it’s easy to feel like we have to tackle every project, every challenge, every task set before us all at once. But part of what makes Scrum effective is that it asks us to focus on one thing at a time, 100%. Especially for those of us serving as Scrum Master: give yourself the gift of a razor-sharp focus on the most important challenge in front of you, complete it successfully, and then move on. We promise, even when you feel like things are getting left on the table, this will allow you to complete things fully and well, and not be piecemeal, so you can get to the next thing (fully and well) next—which is in line with the true spirit of Scrum.
3. Make sure your Scrum is Agile
Scrum was initially developed as a framework for implementing Agile practices. And it’s our job, as teams using Scrum, to ensure our framework is being used to implement an Agile model. When the going gets tough (and it will), when you hit bumps in the road (and you will), revisit the principles of iterative development that define Agile development, and make sure your Scrum is not only aligning with but supporting this style of work. If it’s not: adjust. There is no effective Scrum without a Scrum that’s end goal is Agile!
4. Know your people...as people
A central principle of Scrum’s power is that the teams that use it are self-organizing and cross-functional. Which means if you’re using Scrum, or considering it, it behooves you to know your team—so you can decide who should work with whom and what they should do. And yes, this means knowing what each teammate might be good at, and where they still have room to grow. But it also means knowing who your teammates are, who they get along with, and who they work best alongside. Why does this matter? Well, if you know your people well, then you can arrange them in working relationships that magnify their skills, needs, and personalities, and avoids creating or exacerbating tensions. This means not only effective product development but also pleasant and enjoyable teamwork. And what’s better than that?
5. Keep your eye on the prize!
No goal is ever reached which isn’t defined. And no-undefined goal has ever motivated a team to work hard to achieve a great result. When you set up Scrum, it’s important to recognize that its effectiveness will be defined by what goals you set and how clearly you can articulate whether or not you have reached said goal when the time comes to assess success. A clearly defined goal will serve as team motivation, team catalyst, and a metric for understanding how to adjust your scrum for continued success later on. So set that ambitious, singular goal, and stay focused on it until it’s reached! That’s the best way—and (we think) the only effective way—to Scrum.
Have other tips you rely on to run Scrum effectively? Or questions related to implementing some of the above with your team? Let us know in the comments below. Or, If your company is ready to add some expert nearshore developers into your Scrum, there is a Jobsity distributed nearshore team ready to help you discuss your options.
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