Written by David Cartagena,
Project Manager at mhs.com
We have been working hard to increase adoption of scrum to multiple teams as we’ve had some great success with one project while others have had difficulties getting off the ground.
I took it upon myself to investigate opportunities on how to increase collaboration and understanding of the scrum process with my teams as they worked on multiple projects that were driving towards one collective goal.
Then I found Lego Scrum!
The basis of the session was to build my city, I also took the opportunity to start introducing some of our project managers as scrum masters within the exercise.
We had participation of 18 people from multiple departments: UX, Research, QA, Marketing, Programming, Project Managers, IT and 2 interns! It was great involvement for the first attempt to run a scrum training session within the company.
The focus of the activity was to promote collaboration across multiple teams towards the one end goal, a micro simulation of real world projects the teams were all individually working on that
would require collaboration to produce the final product.
Through the activity one of the key learning points the team realized after the first sprint is how a lack of communication across teams is a huge factor in creating value added work. The seasoned team members went into the activity discussing working together and completely forgot to reach out to the other teams. The result… end of first sprint with all sorts of variation for buildings across the different groups.
User stories completed across 4 teams = 0
The second sprint was a complete change around, the teams adopted quickly, not only assigning tasks to team members but ensuring tasks lined up across teams and individuals working on similar tasks were comparing work between the teams. They also consulted the PO continuously and relentlessly as they produced and completed User Stories to ensure everything was up to standards before deploying to the city (Which of course nobody had remembered to do at the end of the first sprint)
User stories completed across 4 teams = 4
The third sprint blew me away.
From the original 22 user stories that had been in the Product backlog 16 remained and the teams worked together to plan and distribute 15 of them leaving only one item on the backlog. I advised the teams that they should only take what they knew they could commit to completing. Yet all the teams collectively agreed that they could accomplish everything that had been committed to.
As we started the sprint the teams had definitely gone into over drive and working established procedures to complete the user stories. Suffice it to say they almost delivered on every item.
Two of the teams completed all their user stories just in time. One team had only a remaining task on one user story. And the fourth team had completed all their user stories and had attempted to complete the last item on the backlog.
User stories completed across 4 teams = 14
Feedback was very positive, with many jokingly commenting that I had been a very picky and strict Product Owner. But it allowed them to realize the importance of checking with Product Owners to ensure what they are producing is what was asked for.
The best analogy of the first sprint is the soccer field, where each department are siloes on the field not seeing the other siloes only trying to kick the ball out of their area. They accomplish their own goals but didn’t get the ball into the net to score.
I was glad to see the Ah ha! Moment across all the participants faces as they came out of the first sprint and prepared for the second.
We also took this training session to introduce swim lane estimation that has now been adopted within all the Scrum teams here as it much faster than planning poker and allows the team to have a much broader view of the project as they can estimate multiple User Stories and how they relate to others at once.
This was a great success for the teams and the company and has been proposed to be the ideal training method when introducing new departments and team members to scrum as it is adopted across the company.