Agile Playbook

Environment

When forming a new Scrum Team, it’s critical to ensure an environment for success is created including the following:

  1. Work flowing to the team is formed properly.
  2. Team skill set matches what is needed to deliver value.
  3. Scrum Team roles identified and enabled.

Work Flowing to the Team

Scrum Teams are the best way to move a product forward provided the flow of work is well organized and makes sense. This means clear goals and priorities need to be visible and provide value. The process of how work is formed within the goals using Epics and Features before the team ingests it, is as important as how the team intakes the work.

This may require a Product Roadmap, a Program Team and Product Management aligning multiple teams.

Team Skill Sets

For Scrum Teams to deliver value on a regular cadence, they need cross-organizational skills that allow continuous exploration, design, development, test, deployment and possibly release. This requires teams that cut across typical organizational silos.

Often teams will not have all the needed skills and may share services with other teams. This often includes User Experience, Database and other specialty skills. How these shared services will be addressed is as important as the skills on the Scrum Team itself.

Scrum Team Roles

While Scrum Teams become cross-functional and independent allowing team members to cover for each other, roles and responsibilities need to be defined.

The Product Owner (PO) is a critical Scrum Team role. The PO determines “What” needs to be completed and how it aligns with the Product Roadmap and possibly a larger solution for customers and stakeholders. This is a full-time responsibility, and the PO needs to be available to the on a daily basis.

The Scrum Master is a critical Scrum Team role. The Scrum Master focuses on removing impediments, improving team dynamics, and coaching the team for continuous improvement.

Initial State

Creating an initial state using assessments such as the Team and Program Maturity Model (N/A for new teams). Assessments are NOT to be used as judgement on current teams as it would be unfair to judge teams before coaching and forming have taken place. The assessments are used to help coaches and leadership understand what direction and focus is needed to move the teams forward.

Establishing a consistent Sprint calendar and aligning all teams around it may be helpful in addition to the initial assessments.

Enable

Enabling new teams includes knowledge, tools and leadership support.

Training

The entire Team should have some basic Agile Scrum training. This can be training customized for your organization or oner of the options below. The main thing is having the entire team attend the same or similar training to ensure common knowledge.

Role specific training for the Product Owner and Scrum Master is very important and the options below are common industry standards.

Tools and Templates

All Scrum Teams need collaboration tools for managing Sprint Commitments and the Product/Team Backlog. This can be something designed for Agile Teams such as Jira, Rally, Azure DevOps or could be something as simple as a spreadsheet or Trello board.

If the Scrum Team will be developing and deploying software, additional tools will be needed and training in the organization standards is critical.

At a minimum the tools should include a workspace for the team, a standard naming convention for Sprints, agreement on Sprint cadence (Sprint Length, Start/End Dates) and how it aligns with other teams.

If customizing this document for your organization, adding the process for setting up the tools can go here.

Leadership Support

Leadership Support is critical as people on the Scrum Team may report to different leadership or areas within an organization. For the Scrum Team to function well, the team has to work together and that requires goals, KPIs and bonuses are focused on a common goal.

If the Scrum Team is focused on a common Product or Value Stream aligning these may be easier but is still challenging.

Lean-Agile Leadership training can be a big first step and either internal customized training or one of the following is a good place to start.

Engage

Once the Team has been enabled through training, tools and leadership support it’s time to form the team and create working agreements, start planning and executing. The basic working agreements include a Definition of Ready (DoR), Definition of Done (DoD) and a Team Agreement which may be in the form of a Team Trust Canvas.

A Product or Team Backlog should be created and the team should start engaging in the Scrum Ceremonies such as Sprint Planning, Daily Stand Ups, Story Refinement, Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospectives.

It’s critical at this stage to agree on a Team Assessment and Coaching/Improvement Backlog. The assessment isn’t designed to compare teams to each other but to help understand where knowledge or tool gaps exist. The assessment will act as a baseline and an Agile Coach and Scrum Master can work together to build out the Coaching/Improvement Backlog so the team can reach a state of high-performance.

Basic metrics should be identified at this stage and tracked. However, most teams will need to adjust them and spending too much time here automating them can lead to measuring the wrong thing down the road.

This stage can require a lot of attention from an Agile Coach who may be spending time working directly with teams to perform Estimation, Story Writing, Retrospectives, Acceptance Criteria, Design-Thinking, Story Mapping and more…

Empower

Truly empowered teams “Accept” empowerment and this should be a deliberate and planned stage. The Scrum Team will start taking more ownership of the metrics, team assessments and improvement backlogs.

Empowerment becomes a function of the Lean Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) and the Scrum Teams themselves. Additional tools, templates and workshops should come from the teams and having an open Community of Practice is a great way to continue enterprise-wide growth.

X