Here are MyCurrentEmployerCo, we have many problems with our adoption of Agile. (Let’s face it, if they didn’t they’d not have hired me, so I shouldn’t complain too much…)
Amongst our many problems, there’s one that I’m finding particularly frustrating right now, so it’s time to blog about it. At the very least, the act of describing it ought to serve as some form of therapy for me, regardless of whether or not any constructive suggestions appear in the comments below.
At the majority of our stand-ups, several of the team will have a conversation along the following lines:
Team member: “Yesterday I worked on stuff. Today, I’m continuing to work on stuff. No blockers.”
Scrum master: “Which of your tasks have you completed.”
TM: “Hmm, none of them are finished, they’re all interdependent.”
SM: “That means we have no way to tell if you’re going to finish your committed work by the end of the sprint.”
TM: “That’s accurate, yes.”
[Fade to black]
[Sound effect: Chainsaw starting up]
The fading to black and the chainsaw might only happen in my imagination, but they definitely help.
There are a number of cardinal sins here, including:
The update doesn’t tell anyone what’s actually going on.
This could well be because the team member concerned doesn’t actually know what needs to be done, but doesn’t want to admit it. It could also be deliberate evasion to cover up some recent (or planned) slacking off. Without the peer-review of the details that the daily stand-up brings with it, no Scrum Master (or other stakeholder) stands a chance of understanding the true state of progress.
Tasks have not been broken down in a way that they can be individually completed.
The work involved hasn’t been thought through sufficiently before the start of the Sprint. Little or no thought has gone into the task breakdown, but something has to be cobbled together because the Scrum Master insists on having task breakdowns by the end of Sprint Planning Day and this list adds up to about the same number of hours as the stated availability for this sprint.
There is a lack of respect for, and sense of membership of, the team.
To behave in this manner is supremely arrogant: “I’m working on Hard Things TM, don’t worry your pretty little heads about the details because I’m so clever and wonderful that it will all be fine. There, there, there…” These team members see no value in sharing what they’re doing. In some cases, they see sharing the details of their work as a threat: “If I explain the details to these simpletons, they’ll realise that this work could easily be done in <low-cost location of your choice> and I’ll be out of a job.”
Each of these issues needs to be addressed, but each stems from underlying issues some of which go back decades.
I love my job.