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How to get the team working smoothly in the case of a Scrum process, and what happens if that rhythm is missing

Getting a Scrum team working smoothly is a big deal, since there is a lot riding on ensuring that the team is working smoothly. You depend on the team to do almost everything in the Scrum process, with the team doing the following as a much empowered team:
1. Defining the breakdown of the user stories into a granular level of tasks
2. Preparing the estimates at the start of the Sprint planning meeting
3. Defining the improvements during the Sprint retrospective meeting
4. Working with the other team members during the Daily Scrum meeting
5. If there is a Scrum of Scrums, then one of the team members is expected to be the one attending from the team
However, when things seem to be failing, then you know that the team is not working like the smooth well oiled machine that it should be. Some of the symptoms of these are:
1. In the Daily Scrum meeting, people are prompted to talk about their updates
2. People look for reasons or excuses to skip the Daily Scrum meeting, or raise requests to reconsider the frequency of the meeting
3. Out of the meetings at Sprint beginning or Sprint end (such as the Retrospective or Demo) is not happening, with the team enthusiasm level failing
4. Estimates prove to be totally inaccurate in the case of many people, or weird impediments start showing up
5. People have to be reminded to be on the point and not ramble into disconnected areas
6. People start pointing fingers at each other, or blame others for something that they have not managed to do (and this is something that the Scrum Master is able to determine whether the reasons are genuine or make-believe)
All these are negative items that can pretty badly effect the performance of the Sprint team, and cause fall in morale. This effect is heightened when their performance levels start reflecting on the amount of work done, and management starts getting involved (and if the burndown reflects a fall in the velocity), then there seems to be a negative spiral. It is very easy to conclude that the Scrum process is not working for the team (and in this case, it would seem that the Scrum process is not working for the team).
A vigilant ScrumMaster needs to keep a watch-out for the rhythm of a team, and if these symptoms start happening, then start trying to work out the reasons. In some cases, it could be as simple as running the team again through some amount of training, or scheduling some meetings to try to determine what is the problem (and the engineering and quality managers, and / or senior members of the team would also need to get involved).
In the next post, we will look at what further needs to be done to improve things, and figure out what has gone wrong (the first step in trying to work out improvements) ..

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