Posts tagged ‘scrum’


Collaboration At a Distance

Getting teams to function well when they are not co-located isn’t easy. Some teams figure out what works for them and, in my experience, most don’t do it well. When discussing this with others, there is always agreement that teams can be highly productive when distributed geographically and no one has ever given an example of how to get a team there. That was until I read an article by Johanna Rothman. Johanna posted the article on InfoQ which gives a step by step process that worked for a team as described to her by one of the team members.

Not only does the team make collaboration work across geographical locations but also across four and a half time zones. This is impressive.  For the teams I work with, we only have to contend with North American east coast versus west coast time zone. We do have teams in India however they are co-located and only need to collaborate with the North American Product Owner.

Not all steps will work for all teams however what is described should provide a distributed team some ideas of things to try. There will also be organizational challenges. For example, we use Scrum as our development methodology and the teams would have to work with their managers to ensure that expectations are met if they were to start using kanban. I would hope that this wouldn’t be too big a stumbling point as ultimately we just want quality software delivered at regular intervals.

I would love to hear thoughts from others on this topic, particularly any practices that work for your teams that aren’t in Johanna’s article.


Walking the Talk Follow up

This is a follow up to my post “Walking the Talk” as there was interest in what the team thought about making managers ScrumMasters. A quick Google will reveal opinions on both sides of the fence. Our company also recently had Lee Henson of Agile Dad give some training and he was strongly against managers as ScrumMasters. And the big question is “What did the teams think?”.

The team members had responses from “I don’t think it will work”, to “You must do everything in your power to make sure this doesn’t happen!”. So I think it is safe to say that the teams are pretty much convinced that managers as ScrumMasters is a bad idea. Personally, I think that with a team that is highly cohesive, that engages in good dialogue, and feels empowered, coupled with a manager not interested in command and control, it would work. Do I think we have the right teams and the right managers at this time, probably not.

I would love to hear from anybody who has experienced managers as ScrumMasters. Hopefully there have been good experiences out there.

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Measuring Trust

How do you measure trust? This was not a question I expected myself to ask. Isn’t trust one of those things you have, or you don’t? I know there are degrees, or levels, to trust and I didn’t think I would ever need to measure it. Working with my colleague Keith Cerny and others on how to build high performing Scrum teams, we came to the realization it would be useful to measure trust. Without trust, the teams are not likely going to become high performing, so how can we help them with building trust?

So we need a starting point, a measurement of how much trust there is in our organization. That is trust between team members, and trust between teams and management. With a starting point we can measure the effect of changes on trust. I think the bigger question is, how deep do we want to go in measuring trust? We could keep it simple, like Net Promoter Score, and ask on a scale of zero to ten, “how much do you trust X?”. Or we could create a complex questionnaire that really digs into trust.

A quick search with Google reveals that measuring trust is a new model for some businesses. The big name in the business is Steven Covey Jr., and his new book “At the Speed of Trust“. According to the Speed of Trust web site this is a complex issue because they are”…measuring not simply a trust level but the specific trust components that make up the trust score.“. Wow, that is a lot more complex than “how much do you trust X?”. Then there is a Canadian company, Trust Learning Solutions, which also offers to measure your “organizational trust index”, and/or the individual levels of trust. Again, it sounds like measuring trust is a complex art that requires a PhD to understand. That is perhaps not far from the truth when you look at the Harvard study found here, or at the white paper published by the Institute of Public Relations.

Personally, I am a fan of simple solutions. We might not be able to come up with an eleven point scale of trust similar to the Net Promoter Score, however perhaps a six point scale will work. Starting at zero, which would correspond to “I don’t trust X to tell me the time of day”, to a five which is “I trust X to to always say what they are thinking (without being either defensive or offensive) and do what they say”. And I hope we never see a zero on a survey.

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