When working with a new agile team or when a role like the Product Owner or the Scrum Master changes, I’ve found that it is prudent to visualize the specific team responsibilities. If the majority of the team has a basic understanding of the role of Product Owner and Scrum Master this method could be especially useful. Much more so than the alternative of teaching the group about generic guidelines and hoping they figure it out. (However, as a facilitator you should coach the group on which responsibilities could be ideal for thier role-based “standard” agile practices.) Another factor for Scrum centric organizations is that the Scrum Guide doesn’t have details about managers, so this is a good opportunity to codify that for your team(s).
I’ve used this method to help out dozens of teams, and it typically aids in sorting out if everyone is doing the right things, and allows for grey areas to be accounted for.
Team Roles Visualization Exercise
Timebox: (30min for established teams, 60min for new teams)
Purpose: Bring clarity and alignment for the roles on an agile team.
- On a whiteboard draw out columns for the core roles for the team (PO, SM, Devs, Mgr, etc)
- Have each individual in that role write in the various responsibilities, processes, and even meetings they feel they’re responsible for.
- You now have an inventory of likely most of the things that comprise the teams rhythm of operation. As a facilitator/coach, write down any gaps you are seeing.
- Now go through each column and make sure the group is aligned, or if certain things should be moved to a different person. Also, help ensure the gaps you may have written down are addressed.
- Document the results with a picture or transcribe to a document that can be posted on your team portal.
- It’s suggested to distribute the results to the entire team.
For brand new teams or for teams that do not have an agile background, this similar exercise may be another option to help nudge along this activity. Scrum Roles and Responsibilities Game