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Dear Work Therapist - What to do when squad members are against Agile and Scrum?

Dear Work Therapist,

Hope you're doing well.

I received some valuable insights last time which inspired me again writing this in such a short interval.

This squad has six members and started  around eight months ago and working remotely (due to current restrictions) and follow scrum framework with two week sprints. 

There are some squad members who think traditional approach was better and current invisible push to agile transformation would most certainly fail in long run. They have mentioned different points or reactions in recent times.

Let me summarise these as below :

  1. Showing differences during squad appreciation and raising points of individual brilliances done in previous sprint and often try to showcase statistics of their own work in retrospectives
  2. Excuses to avoid ceremonies(i.e. mostly daily scrum) with too much work for that day and in cases showing a feeling that it's total waste of time even if it's for only ten  minutes in a day
  3. Reacting harshly if there are any mention to changes in scope and provide estimates which are often challenged by peers
  4. Considering Scrum Master to be an alien and often challenging the role
  5. Often blaming remote work and drawing contrast before pandemic era
  6. Immense fear for any suggested agile training and forget about it and arguing if asked for second time
  7. Most important point, they often say Agile is nothing new it's just selling old wine with a rebranding and using new jargons

Could you please guide to sort this out ?

Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,

Agile Transformation Believer

3 comments

Mary Lee Atlassian Team Aug 04, 2021
Hi, Agile Transformation Believer!

You are not alone in your efforts to transform your team into a cohesive scrum unit. You bring up many specific pain points that understandably make it difficult to see any implementable change. I recently underwent Hyper Drive's "Scrum Certification" and would like to share some guidance I recently received from 2-days of focused training. Here are a few challenges you listed, with a few tips I'd like to share, heavily influenced by the Agile Manifesto:
  • Traditional is better, Agile will fail in the long run -Discover what "traditional ways" they consider to be "better". What about the agile process do they believe will fail in the long run? A deeper understanding of this pro-traditional way of work is worthwhile to addressing overall ways of working, and create openness to adopting agile principles. ("business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project". This comes from the Agile Manifesto, and seems like a good way to work, whether you operate with Agile in your organization or not. )
  • We are too busy for daily scrum ceremonies - The daily scrum is intentionally short. It is to create focus and improve self-management. When done right, the daily scrum should improve communication, identify impediments, promote quick decision making, and perhaps even eliminate the need for other meetings (thus saving time in the long run!) If it's time that they're worried about, frame it this way:  would you rather spend/waste 2 weeks of a sprint, no daily scrum and end up with the wrong deliverable? Or, would you rather spend 10 minutes each day of the 2 weeks ensuring that the work is on the right track and pacing towards achieving goals? Perhaps it would be worthwhile to assess how daily scrums are conducted currently, and adjust from there. ("at regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly". )
  • Negativity towards change of scope - change is hard. Change is harder when you're mid-sprint and priorities change. But change is not bad. One important tenant of the agile way of working is "individuals and interactions over processes and tools". If there is a change needed in the scope of work, we always put the customer, partner, individual and collaboration, over a process or tool. In many cases, organizations have benefited from being agile in this way, and staying competitive in their market ("welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage")
  • Scrum Master is an alien -  the Scrum Master's role is often misunderstood, so this challenge is no surprise! They are not there to receive status reports or point to people to give an update. Their role is to facilitate and coach the team towards higher effectiveness. They must be true leaders to serve not only their scrum team but the larger organization. Identify the Scrum Master on your team and create alignment on their role and responsibilities, and make it a point to share that out to the larger scrum team.
  • Remote work makes agile not possible - The goal of the scrum framework is to help teams work more effectively together through an agreed upon scope of work, and processes and tools to facilitate that. It's challenging in the remote world to feel agile. However, following the principles of agile, and working together as a true scrum team can help the team rise above the perceived cons of virtual work. One principle in particular-  "the best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams" says it well. "Self-organizing"! Can your team do that today, given what's in place today? If not, it might be time to explore principles of agile that can help make it so.
  • We do not want training, don't ask again - Training resistance is not uncommon. It takes time to learn and implement and yes, oftentimes we've seen trainings fail to launch. It is important to have the full support of leadership when introducing and implementing this level of change. Without support from the organization at large, especially leadership, it will be a challenge to create buy-in from the team.

  • Agile is old news, we've been there done that and it didn't work - Perhaps it's time for a retrospective! smile Why didn't it work? This would be a good opportunity to uncover deeper seeded issues and sentiments towards agile-aversion.

    Hope some of this helps give you some ideas on how to approach this conversation with your team! (P.S. I am not a Work Therapist but am too making efforts to help my team become more agile) 
Like # people like this

Thanks @Mary Lee  for taking time(though you have mentioned that you are not a work therapist) and suggesting different solutions for different pain points. I would definitely pass it on.

I drafted this article as I have seen the challenges from an observer role and I am quite sure there might be many more who are facing this in their daily work.

One common thing I must say, it's not quite easy to make people follow from the methodology and frameworks as the main issue is they often learn it but while practising they forget and make the same mistakes, followed by blame and resist to changes and stick to the same old thing because they are not quite keen to embrace changes.

Before bringing any change, we must accept the challenges, issues otherwise none can help.

Cheers

Suvradip

Like Mary Lee likes this
Jack Brickey Community Leader Aug 06, 2021

I have run into this many times and in fact, I was one of those people against it and I am generally for change. For me the trick is, and it’s really not a trick. to simply give it a try and make it a real try. Convince those against it to try something new, try to make it fun, see what’s good about it, see what’s not good about it, what can be changed, how can we make it better.

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