Taking people from existing Scrum teams to form a new Scrum team

I am a great believer in stable teams. I think that teams need to be doing a Scrum together to get to the performing stage of the the Bruce Tuckman model of group development (forming–storming–norming–performing).

Recently I created a new Scrum team by taking developers from two existing Scrum teams in the office.

We put a lot of work into the importance of the Team and the Team coming first so disrupting two very mature and successful Scrum teams was not undertaken lightly.

Why?

The Teams were formed to work on products that required a mix of technical skills. These products have been delivered and the new products for the foreseeable future don’t require the same mix of technical skills. To make everyone’s lives easier we split the technical skills into teams that align with the work in the future product roadmap.

What steps did we take to reduce disruption?

The whole process was made easier because the initial drive to split the teams came from within the teams. They knew that they were no longer working on the same products. They knew that there weren’t getting any mixed skill stories that required the whole team to collaborate throughout the whole sprint any more.

I emailed the entire company about the change and invited everyone to ask any questions they had.

The new team were encouraged to design their own Agile solution based on their experiences with Agile.

We use both Scrum and Kanban here. All of the members of the new team were experienced with both. The new Team chose to use Scrum because they were more comfortable with the story writing, estimation and planning processes.

The Team chose two week iterations as that is what they are used to and having a similar cadence as the existing teams made it easy to synchronise the core Scrum meetings without any conflicts .The new team also chose the timings or their Scrum meetings eg Standup, Pre-planning, Planning, Showcase and Retrospective.

Building a new team

New Board

The team identified a free wall in the office that had enough space and chose to replicate the columns of one of other teams eg To Do, In Progress, Signoff and DONE. The backlog will be in JIRA just like the other teams.

New Team Name

The decision that took the most time and generated the most heated discussion was the selection of the new team name. All of our team names are car themed so the team chose Tesla as it is fast, exciting, new technology and environmentally conscious.

Lessons

Throughout the whole process, where possible, we empowered the new team to make the decisions about how they wanted to work.

Parallels between coaching elite sports teams and high performing technical teams

All Blacks coaching and leadership in elite teams

This is an excellent article on successful coaching techniques for elite teams. There are a lot of parallels between elite sports teams and highly performing technical teams. Some quotes:

As Henry stated: “Better People Make Better All Blacks, came from that meeting after that Tri-nations tour in 2004… It’s evolved, and it’s pretty good now. But … you’re always gonna get better.”

What you do shouts so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.’

“The best thing about the All Blacks at the moment is that players can contribute so much. Beforehand I think it was dictated to us what our days consisted of. [Being able] to contribute… makes your work a lot easier than if you are being treated like a schoolkid being dictated to”. Byron Kelleher (All Black)

Both coaches (Hendy and Smith) emphasized the importance of transferring responsibility to the players, empowering them, expecting more ownership, and expecting accountability from them for the team’s success, both on and off the field.

Peer-ownership, peer-responsibility, them running the culture, and the environment of the team was hugely important to the success of the side. Because at the end of the day they knew they were totally responsible when they got on that field… They’d been given the responsibility. …We thought that was the best way of developing a rugby side… The more confidence you can give them in leading the team, in making decisions on the field, the better they’re gonna play. Also it makes them feel good, it’s good for their self-esteem.

So a simple way to live that day-by-day is to not spoon-feed players [as a coach]. And that might be [something simple like] not handing out a daily plan every day.” Wayne Smith, All Black Coach

About every seven weeks we would try and freshen the way we were doing things. So that might mean we would review the game differently. Or we’d change the training week… At one point the coaches all changed [roles]… At the end of 2009, I became defence and counterattack coach… Graham became line-out coach. And Steve became the attack coach… Then, in 2010 we changed again… We felt that we’d stopped improving. …It was seen as pretty radical… [one journalist] said it was like shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic. But we had a feeling it would be good for us. Wayne Smith, All Black Coach

We also focused on increasing the enjoyment.