by Ken Medley
Have you ever seen an orchestra perform? It’s incredible to experience a group of people all playing different instruments, all reading sheet music specifically written for their instrument, all working together to make one beautiful song.
Everyone in an orchestra knows how to read music, has many years of experience playing their instrument, and knows the importance of the role they play in the orchestra. There are a lot of parallels to the way our Scrum teams operate here at Alley. In order for all of us to be playing the same song — be on the same sheet of music, if you will — everyone at Alley is certified in Scrum. Our Digital Strategists are all certified Product Owners, our Agile Process Leaders are all Scrum Master certified, and every other team member goes through certified Scrum Team Member training. Additionally, everyone on the Executive Action Team at Alley holds at least one Scrum certification as a Scrum Master or Product Owner, if not both. We obtain our training from Scrum Inc., both offline and online.
For all of us to play the same song, everyone needs to have a good understanding of Scrum. If someone doesn’t understand our process and the role they play in it, we suffer and cannot serve our fellow team members and clients well. Just imagine the entire violin section of an orchestra filled with people that aren’t skilled at the violin, don’t know how to read music, or don’t understand how the conductor is telling them to play. Just like each member of an orchestra plays a unique role, so does each member of our Scrum teams. Our Product Owners work with clients to understand priorities and refine the backlog. Our developers architect and implement solutions. And our Scrum Masters remove impediments for the team members to help increase velocity each sprint. We need each person’s talents and efforts to have a successful sprint.
Like an orchestra looks to their conductor for guidance, we look to Scrum to help guide us through our sprints. But why Scrum? Why not one of the many other agile methodologies? That can really be boiled down to one word: Clarity. Each Scrum ritual (standups, refinement, planning, demos, and retros) provides us with clarity. Clarity on what is the highest business value, clarity on what we are being asked to do, clarity on how we’ll execute our tasks, clarity from the client on whether we built the right thing or not, and clarity on how we are working together as a team.
When everyone on a scrum team has clarity, the team performs better; we all work together better, faster, and produce higher quality work when we stick to Scrum principles. This is why we spend time, effort, and dollars on ensuring everyone is fully trained and certified in Scrum. When someone starts at Alley, regardless of their previous experience with Scrum, we send them to Scrum Inc. training and make sure they get their Scrum certification in short order. We create tickets for them in their first sprint at Alley to accomplish this. We have had senior, seasoned team members come back and share great information with their teams that they have just learned from training. Here are just a few insights:
- “There is no partial credit in Scrum; we either complete work or we don’t.”
- “Daily standup meetings are about re-planning — we want to make sure we are still working on the highest priority stuff.”
- “The five values of Scrum are openness, courage, respect, focus, and commitment that should impact our team’s working agreement.”
What about your organization? What training, whether Scrum certification or otherwise, do you offer to your teams to provide clarity and ensure you’re all on the same sheet of music? If you’d like to learn more about how we use (or train for) Scrum, reach out to us on Twitter and start a conversation!
Originally published at https://alley.co on July 14, 2020.