#79: Scrum - It will find your problems

Continuing my mini-series on the Scrum Framework, I look at Problems.

We commonly struggle to raise and discuss Problems in our Organisations; but in this episode, I talk about how Scrum drags those problems into the light and actively encourages us to resolved them.

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Published: Wed, 24 Mar 2021 16:51:58 GMT



Hello, and welcome back to the Better ROI from Software Development podcast.

I'm continuing my mini-series on Scrum.

In Episode 73, I provided a primer to Scrum. In episode 74, I talked about the theories and values. In Episode 75, some common problems. 76, The Definition of Done. 77, I talked about conflict. And in the last episode, episode 78, I talked about warning flags that can come from the team - or more importantly, individuals - asking for more work during the Sprint.

In this episode, similar to the episode on conflict, I want to talk about Problems - Scrum will highlight problems - and that's a subject for today's podcast.

Similar to conflict, which I talked about in Episode 77, problems generally have a negative connotation. We see them as things to be avoided - and in some cases, brushed under the carpet.

We don't want to deal with a problem.

Problems are seen as bad, problems are seen as difficult.

Quite often in some organisations, you actually have a shoot the messenger culture and as such, it can be very difficult, culturally within an organisation, to actually sometimes raise problems.

But there are obvious dangers with this.

Problems do exist - by simply ignoring them or not encouraging them to be raised or brushing them under the carpet, they don't go away.

The problems will continue to exist.

And in many organisations, especially larger organisations, they become institutionalised. They become "this is how we do things around here". They're no longer perceived as being a problem, just how we do stuff.

Scrum, Agile and Lean all work towards highlighting those problems - they label them as impediments or waste - but they categorise them as all sources for improvement.

Within Scrum, we have the Daily Planning and the Sprint Retrospective - both of these events help us to surface problems, to surface impediments, anything that is slowing the team down, anything that is affecting the output and the effectiveness of the team, anything that is affecting getting the best results possible.

Those two events specifically call them out.

Daily planning - during that process, every day we're asking: "is there something that is causing us an impediment?", "Is there something that is stopping us from working towards?"

And then within the screen retrospective, we talk again about impediments, problems, things we can improve.

These are both intended to bring those problems to the surface.

Those activities bring the problems to the fore. They surface them and they make them visible.

No longer are we pretending the problems do not exist.

No longer are we hiding from the problems.

No longer are the problems hidden under the carpet.

And in many cases, they'll actually highlight problems that you didn't even know were problems - probably because they have become that institutionalised "this is what we do" over many, many years.

And once those problems are surfaced, the scrum master role is there to assist the team in the removal of those problems - helping the team and the organisation work through the best way to remove those impediments, those sources of waste to improve - both how the team work and the larger organisation around it.

In this episode, I've talked about how Scrum highlights and raises problems.

Traditionally problems are seen as scary, something we don't want to raise, something we don't want to address, something we almost want to pretend does not exist.

Scrum like Agile and Lean, very much act to drag those into the light, very much highlight they're there - and ask us to do something about them rather than just pretend they don't exist.

And that's an important cultural impact for your organisation when you adopt Scrum. You have to understand that you have these problems being highlighted. You need to understand that it will cast a light on some of those murky shadows within your organisation and that they should be addressed.

And this is something that you should be prepared for as an organisation. Highlighting these problems and solving them is good for the organisation.

Especially if people are prepared and aware that they're going to arise.

Thank you very much for taking the time to listen to this podcast episode. I look forward to speaking to you again next week.