Agile Examples – The Scrum Team

This is an excerpt from the textbook that I am writing with a co-author on Agile.  Here are examples of a strong and weak Scrum Teams.  Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Strong Scrum Teams

The green team has a team member who is wicked smart, so much so that the rest of the team has trouble keeping up with him when he gets going on an idea.  He is almost always right in his direction but he processes information in his brain so quickly that when he talks, it is a bit like gibberish to the rest of the team because he doesn’t clearly state how he got from problem to solution.  On some teams, this type of savant could be extremely frustrating because when he talks, the team rarely understands what he is saying.  But the green team is a highly effective team and they recognize and value the intelligence and ideas of their super-smart colleague.  So they brainstormed the right way to allow him to communicate his ideas and thought patterns.  They painted all of the walls in the area with whiteboard paint which allows you to write on the walls, from floor to ceiling, and then erase it when you are done.  They encouraged their team member to write down the train of thought that his brain was making in solving a particular problem.   This allows the rest of the team to slowly digest what their colleague is conveying and they have a written record to access when they are trying to recall a specific detail.  The green team rallied together and found a solution that would allow all of their team members to actively contribute and drive towards the best possible solution.

Not so Strong Scrum Teams

The blue team is not optimized.  They have a member who is equally talented but far more disruptive.  This individual is negative and not a team player. Every idea that isn’t his own is stupid and anyone who doesn’t like his ideas is stupid.  He is very intelligent and knows the system very well so his behavior is tolerated even though he is so negative.  The sense is that the team could not do without him because of his expertise.  His presence has created a work environment that is tense and unproductive.  His team members are reluctant to confront him because he is so aggressive in his negative demeanor.  The issue of his attitude has been raised with both the Scrum Master and the IT Manager but neither are willing to address the problem because they fear losing his expertise on the system.  So this team operates in a constant state of fear. They do not know how this individual will react in any situation so they all retreat and wait for his reaction before they express any opinions of their own.  The team is failing to meet any of its deliverables because no one can commit to certain tasks when the bully on the team is driving all of the discussions and undermining the whole Scrum practice.  This is an ineffective team who would be far better off if the dominant individual was removed from the team.  They might suffer a bit from the lost expertise but they would gain far more by being allowed to brainstorm and work together.

Want to read more?  We have examples for Product Owners and Scrum Masters too.

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