They both use the same argument: We use Scrum standup meetings, we ask what we did, what they are going to do and what is stopping them. This is enough information.
I am all in for doing Scrum. I have had my fair share of waterfall development, XP and Scrum, and Agile is far better then the waterfall ways.
The stand up methods and scrum are great for putting some order in a complex and changing environment. But there is a small but important issue, it is too easy to focus on giving excuses.
Why didn’t we do what we promised: Well the build server didn’t work and we waited for IT to install our system, but they didn’t come. We can always find reasons for what is stopping us.
Stop giving excuses
I hate excuses, they don’t help at all.
I call focusing on solving problems and living up to your word: growth.
Its the ability to do get better and better at what you are doing. It is not waiting for IT to do things but learning how to do something about it ourselves (notifying management of the delay so that they can help is also doing something about it).
Lets see what happened to Travis (you can read his comment, I am going to use Travis as an example here, but it could be any team lead). Travis is on many teams, and he needs to go to many different stand-ups, so Travis is polling the teams, to do this the standup have to be as short as possible because it takes up valuable time, so no problems are solved, just raised. Also notice the complexity that is happening here, the standup now have to be synchronized so that people who are on a few teams can be there.
Turn the tables
Lets see what will happen if we did something else, lets do it the other way round. Instead of polling and trying to get information and finding different ways to share that information. Lets have a system that the relevant information is pushed to the right place at the right time, and solved swiftly.
Here is one way how. I call it Integrity Management.
The hands on employees are the ones that have the most knowledge of what is working and what isn’t. We want them to choose what information is relevant to push.
In the weekly meeting each team lead commits to what they will do that week. This is a commitment, not a “we will do our best” or a “we will do the highest priority” but a weekly commitment.
There are daily standup’s within each team, but Travis doesn’t need to be there, because once a team knows that it is missing its mark, they tell all the team leads. Travis as a team lead gets the ‘event’ and can help the team find a solution (Call it a Just In Time Information, why poll all the time?). Travis can then mentor the team on how to solve these problems, and can even ask them commit to doing those actions. In our example, there is an event that team A is behind schedule because of an IT problem. We can ask the team what they can do to solve it, and they might come up with a few solutions: (Note that they are all controllable actions)
- We can nag IT again
- We can do it on the old machine
- We can install it ourselves
We can then help choose the correct way. This helps the team grow because they actually brought up the solutions themselves.
This is great, but Travis still has missing information, suppose the team decided that instead of waiting for IT, they go and do it on the old machine. Here is where talking about Dilemmas works wonders. Once the team lead says in the following meeting, “We didn’t want to wait for IT, so we decided to do it on the old machine”, Travis can point out that there is a better way to do it, but hey, they did manage to do their job! And now other teams know how to solve these problems too.
Using Integrity we focus on solving problems, not raising them. Did you know that 90% of the problems we raise in Typemock Management Meetings are solved in under 10 seconds. Either some other team member helps out, or if it is complex we meet later but we have to come with several solutions too, and these are solved quite quickly. Sometimes, the complex meeting never happens because the team solved it already while thinking about the different solutions.
Become a solution oriented organization. Focusing on solutions, will help your team grow. Integrity Management helps you focus on solution making.