In a Scrum practicing team, every one is a hero, trying to promise and perform what or what ever it takes to deliver in the Sprint. For transformation projects, the biggest threats are with the super hero’s in the team.
A had a candidate in my team who works like a geek, he understood Scrum, he even takes it to the next level to make his associates understand what Scrum as a framework is?, he works best or bets his velocity, each time. He delivers what is required and sometime more than what is required, He helps associates to complete their work, sometimes working overtime or helping them code or test, or even do their work as his and claim that they have done it. Infact he solves all his impediments by himself. Did I say, he solves it by himself? Well, did you see the hidden threats that can blow up the team even it can delivery Sprints.
What was the candidate trying to do? He was basically doing the whole project by himself. There were physical teams depending on him to deliver for the sprint. The Scrum Master became dumb to understand how unwell the Sprint executed and the threat never showed up even in the Sprint Review or Retrospect because the Done for the user stories are validated and signed-off by the product owner as accepted. Infact, the Sprint was super flawless, hidden inside the team is the incompetence lying low and the super hero trying to cover it up along the team.
A Scum Master is just not enough to handle situations like this. We needed a Coach here to make the team understand what they were supposed to do.
As a team for each sprint, we deliver, but not over deliver it. In highly self organized teams, the threat shadows itself and grows as a poison tree. The super heroes, thinking of helping junior peers, coding for them and claiming they have done it, is a way of spoiling the guy who looks you as a senior. The candidate should train, guide the juniors to perform the action than to do things on his own.
Impediments are to be solved or guided by a Scrum Master who has to be a technical guy in a tactical project. If he is just another Project Manager moved role, then it becomes a clear problem that is buried within a team and never showed up. In Scrum, we need to remember it’s a team’s delivery not a single person who can prove the sprint to be right.
This is a hidden, secret layer that cant be found unless you go a step ahead with the team and understand what each person deliver. In my experience, even if you have been honest with the team, the team never shows up that there was something hidden. For the sake of being good hero, outside but what each individual misses is that their learning curve is pulled by his senior and at the end of the day, he doesn’t really know what went on with project or how it was ever coded.
Why do these heroes do this?
From my experience,
- It’s for them to prove that they can deliver technically anything and they want their expert light bulb above them.
- The thirst to qualify and get a good rating and prove technically strong caps.
- To impress junior or senior peers
- As a challenge, to fight with self ego’s
- Innocently, they overdo, just to prove.
- Rightly to beat their velocity Sprint after Sprint.
There is a parallel threat that runs with this, the velocity is being observed not as a team but by a single resources doubled up velocity and there starts the waterfall model as the resources who are waiting to get their work done spend quality time doing all sorts of other works.
How do we identify the secret as a Scrum Master?
- In Daily Standup we don’t hear any impediments
- Even if we hear, they are solved or can be solved by today or a specific day
- Details on impediments aren’t shared by the team.
- Team considers every risk to be an impediment.
- Team member doesn’t provide an update or deliberately avoid a specific update.
- Team member deliberately absent for a update that he needs to share on a day.
- Team member has resistance in volunteering to pick up user stories.
- Team member depends on senior resources (super heroes) in the team to suggest, picking up user stories.
- Team member informs that he would not be available today for the daily standup.
The above are some of the symptoms that I have faced as a Scrum Master. Watching the sprints deliver perfectly at the end and being dumb.
What can be done:
- Discuss it personally with the resource. Understand his problem and start assigning him a mentor to help him learn where he’s week at.
- Remove him from the Scrum Team. (Make him an observer for a sprint)
- Give him or allow him to take simple tasks from the backlog (planned for other sprints) to work on.
- Have a personal stand-up with him on daily basis to understand three things. (What did he learn or do yesterday, what is he going to learn or do today, what is the proof?)
- Just by assigning him / her to a mentor or getting them a training tickets to attend training does not make him a hero overnight.
- As a human, he takes his turn to understand that he has done a mistake; he first tries to cover it up with guilt. Then he tries to recover from his act, He anticipates and understands the move forward. This is the time you as an assistant provide him the tools for him to grow. Infact his is one of the best things a Scrum Master can do to his team ever.