I am a financial woman who loves life and socializing. After years of hard work in the IT industry, I finally became the director, leading two teams of about 20 people. But recently, my career is at a bottleneck, and my teams work overtime every day.
I saw that my ex-colleague often posted on how timely and high quality his team delivered after using "agile", and how well they were praised by the boss. Though also using Scrum, my team was always delayed, which made me jealous and frustrated.
Both my teams were equipped with their own Scrum Masters and Product Owners. But the problem was that the requirements were unclear and the bugs were so frequent that I had to stay up late when I was supposed to leave work on time and enjoy my life. We sought management advice and even changed our approach, but still, it did not help. That was until last weekend when I got my passion back and I felt the love for my work again.
On the second weekend of December, a friend introduced me to the place where I met him - the agile coach. It was a conference located in Kuala Lumpur. After entering the scene are the modernized room decorations and the open and bright ambience. Delicate cakes and drinks were placed at the door, and the lady beside me ushered me to my seating. The atmosphere was inviting and it excited me for what would happen next.
The first thing that impressed me was when I talked about my pain point, my career dilemma. He told me, "You're hurting because you didn't do it right".
Let's start with my staffing.
According to the Scrum Guide, a Scrum team should have 3 to 9 members (not including the PO and Scrum Master), so my team configuration was 8 (not including the PO and Scrum Master).
But, he gave me a very different opinion. He pointed out that five people are the most suitable team size. Then, he listed his years of research and told me why five people were the most suitable. His attentive attitude was fascinating. It made me rethink. Is it really appropriate for my team of 20 people to be split into two teams? Could this be the reason for my team’s inefficiency?
I was more surprised later during the training. The trainer told me that the Scrum Masters should be the sheepdog. But my two Scrum Masters were at best little sheep running faster. He said that the sheepdog should run around the sheep, not the other way. This made me question my Scrum Masters’ ability to drive the team.
He explained that a Scrum Master should be the leader of the team and can lead them through the obstacles and achieve the goal. If the team members are undisciplined, he should interrupt them, improve the team members' way of working, and take responsibility for the delivery.
When I came here, I began to understand why our team was not efficient and was often problematic. When such two teams were combined, the response speed was even slower. Then, when things came to my side, small problems piled up into big problems. So, he reminded me, "If you can't Scrum you can't Scale."
I learned the truth through this game
After the lunch break, each of us was given cards that didn't make any sense. We were asked to build our own Scrum and we started to think about it in groups.
Half an hour later, when I shared the results, I was surprised to find that each group had a different position, order, etc. of the cards. Each group had a different Scrum. Something I learned previously crossed my mind. Traditionally, the Scrum Master required every team's Scrum to be the same and this could not be changed. I couldn’t help but wonder why every team’s Scrum designed today was different.
At this point, he gave me an analysis of how the Scrum framework should be used flexibly. As long as it didn’t violate the framework specifications of the Scrum Guide, everyone should explore the Scrum that best suits their team.
It dawned on me that there is nothing in this world that is constant. Flexibility and quick response are the best way to overcome processes that are boring. Just like I discovered today, Scrum is just a framework, but the elements in it are highly adjustable. It should be configured to fit the situation of your team. We must find our own gameplay to make the best use of Scrum. I felt that it was worth sharing today's results with my two Scrum Masters. It might give them something to think about. And after the course, I will "train" them well.
Time flies and before I knew it, the training was coming to an end.
He gave me a final gift of helping me to solve my trouble. The release has always been the part that confused me the most. It's usually a bunch of tech guys saying a bunch of jargon that I didn’t understand -- DevOps, release pipeline, toolchain, etc., and saying that the toolchain must be done well and that you need to release multiple times a day to solve our current slow delivery problem.
And today what the trainer said about the release completely changed my perspective. He pointed out that a good release if it follows the specifications, does not necessarily require DevOps. DevOps is not an important topic, or a necessary element, for Scaled Agile as a whole.
We just need to achieve Scrum@Scale’s agile requirements. We're delivering business value, not demonstrating how many times a day the team can deliver. Too much emphasis on demonstrating the ability to deliver will cause a lot of waste.
Displaying capability is just a perspective, what users really want is to receive business value. To deliver business value, it doesn't matter how many releases you have per day. I couldn't agree more. Even if these tech guys post a thousand times a day, our users can't update the app more than two times a day, so it doesn't matter how fast they release it.
Soon, the two days of training were over. I recalled our first time meeting and how much I’ve learned. The thought of leaving brought tears to my eyes. After a long battle of troubles at work, I had become discouraged. But this training brought a new perspective and ignited the passion I thought I’d lost.
This course, from agile implementation to large-scale implementation, gave me the knowledge to empower my teams to deliver better results. On top of that, I learned the Dr Sutherland's original knowledge from Ethan Soo.
I learned how to solve team problems and scale agile. Most of the problems in my team were caused by an inaccurate understanding of the knowledge. I now have the power to fix these mistakes, and I hope the rest of my company will also learn this knowledge and become a stronger team together.
After two days of learning, I regained my confidence and made new friends with a group of like-minded teammates who were all striving to be the best. Although they were veteran agile coaches, vice presidents of listed companies, product directors of medical institutions and many experienced practitioners, we were still very happy to learn and interact with each other.
If you’re interested to sign up, read more here: https://ciagile.com/course-rpo.html