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Ongoing Scrum challenge – ensuring that teams have the flexibility to set their processes ..

When a team starts to implement Scrum and change from using their existing non-Scrum process, there can be a lot of challenges. The team is supposed to go through a Scrum training and in most of the cases, they go through an adequate training in Scrum. This training explains to them the philosophy, as well as the processes, and tries to make them understand the empowerment that they are supposed to take. This can take some time, and it typically takes more than one Sprint cycle for them to understand how this works, the responsibility that comes on their shoulders. At the same time, this time period is also important for the managers of the team to learn about how Scrum works, and what their role and responsibility in the entire matter is.
And this is one of the biggest issues in terms of the role and responsibilities of the managers of the team. They have the potential to take steps that could screw up the entire team, and reduce the empowerment that the team feels. Unfortunately, this is something that happens a lot; in a lot of discussions with Scrum Master, this issue turns out to be one of the biggest reasons as to why the implementation of Scrum does not achieve the benefits that people are looking for. And, it is also one of the issues that does not really come to light unless somebody has been keeping a close look at the tam dynamics, or watching out for specifically something like this. Even the Scrum Master sometimes is not able to figure out when a manager starts acting like a team / product owner again, and by the time you realize this, things are starting to go down the wrong path.
So what really happens ? When you get a team to move onto Scrum, there has to be a clear realization that you are now depending on the team to run a lot of things in terms of deciding the time it takes to do a certain feature, to break this down into smaller features, work out the complexity of these feature and correct themselves where required, with able assistance from the Scrum Master and even from other managers in the team. However, this is not something that is easy. If you are a manager of the team, and you see something not going as you would expect, then temptation to step in is very high. Further, part of this process is about the various processes that the team follows. This can be regarding the estimation methods, this can be regarding the timing of the Daily Scrum, this can be regarding many other smaller items that decide how the team is going to work. When you are using Scrum, it is expected that the team will look at what works for them, and make corrections in the process wherever required. And this is where managers could provide advise, advise with the expectation that the team will follow this advise.
And with the kind of position that the team managers have with the team, it is quite natural that the team will start following these advise, or atleast tweak their processes to follow such advise. But, this is a kind of flow that needs to be avoided, you need to let the team make these decisions about the process to follow, providing them guidance and providing them coaching, and letting them get into a stage where they can figure out whether they are going right or wrong. I cannot emphasize this one strongly enough, and you will find many posts in this blog that emphasize this advise.

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