The ScrumMaster Files: A Group of People Does not mean Team

You are a first time ScrumMaster with a first time team.

The 7 person team has been together for many years before they moved to working with Agile.

You have worked many years with the team before you became their ScrumMaster. Everyone gets along and when you look at where the team started compared to where they are now, you do see progress is albeit painstakingly slow (it seems).

The team all went to the same Agile training as you did. You have really taken to the role of ScrumMaster, feeling this is your calling in life. You have been working hard to become ‘master of scrum’; reading books, blogs, watching any videos or Ted Talks to help you fill your toolkit to make you better equipped to make the team the best version of themselves every day.

The biggest source of frustration for you with the team is how little they talk or interact with each other. In the beginning of your scrum journey you felt it was due to lack of confidence in working a new way. However after 7 sprints you hoped the team would be more like an Agile team; collaborating, discussing, dog piling tasks to done.

After trying many different techniques from what you have read and not seeing any improvement. You have tried ideas from other scrum masters in the organization and even ideas from your mentor and agile coach with little to no success. It still feels like you have to ‘pull teeth’ to get them to talk and bring up ideas or just interact.

The team does provide updates at the daily scrum on their own individual work. During the retrospectives the team does come up with some ideas. They are starting to pair ‘some’ but the team still mostly works in their old roles and do not seem to understand how empowered they are to determine how best to get their work done together as a team.

Not surprising the team struggles to consistently make their sprint goals. It has been hit or miss for the past few sprints on what they commit to in sprint planning and what they actually deliver at the sprint review.
Some things to consider to get you started:

  • Have you talked with members one on one to learn more about team members as people?
  • What would you try to get the team to communicate with each other?
  • Is there a particular Retrospective technique that you would try?
  • What would you do if you were the ScrumMaster of this team?