Team Building Action Plan in Scrum Projects

What is the Team Building Action Plan and how does it apply to Scrum Projects? The Dynamics of a Team and how to promote co-operation and Teamwork among the Team members is a popular topic. This is due to the move towards replacing old, hierarchical structures with Teams. This is occurring throughout the business and not just within the IT department.

Team Building Action Plan: Initiating the Project

When a Scrum Project is Formed, it is possible that none of the Team members have actually Worked together. They are a Team in name only. Time is required to establish the interpersonal relationships that will make it possible for Team members to co-operate and Collaborate. The Scrum Master has the responsibility for sourcing and Developing the Team and putting together a Team Building Plan.  They are helped in this Task, both by the Product Owner and by the Development Team themselves. The Team Building Plan is drafted at the start of the Project. This occurs at the stage when the Team members are being selected and on-boarded.

Team Building Action Plan: The Challenges.

Team-building is always a difficulty, and Scrum is no different. Ther are some characteristics of Scrum support the concept of a Team. These include the capability to Self-Organise. There are also other aspects that make the Scrum Master’s Job more challenging. Here are a few instances:-.

-‘Small Team Size’. The ideal Scrum Team has around 6-7 members. Personality clashes are very likely for teams of this size.
-‘No Clear Line Of Command’. Scrum may be confusing for Scrum Team members who are used to Working on Conventional Projects. Conventional projects have a Project Manager and a Project Plan, these are different in Scrum Projects.
-‘No Fixed Roles’. A Scrum Development Team member is called a “Developer”. Within Scrum projects a Developer is expected to perform different Tasks. These tasks would Traditionally have required individual role-players, such as Testers or analysts. This can be unsettling for a Team member who has previously had a specific Job description within the Organisation.

The Challenges of Building Any Team.

The psychology and Dynamics of Teams has been studied thoroughly, mainly utilizing sports Teams as a basis for research. Scrum itself was explained as a successful Team Model based on rugby. In 1986 Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka write a post “The New Product Development Game” in the Harvard Business Review. They pointed out the Teamwork in a Scrum, and how it might be used to the Work Environment.

Among the most widely-cited research findings was Bruce Tuckman. Bruce Tuckman studied Teams in the US Navy and released his results in 1965. He recognized 4 Stages of Maturity in Teams. These were “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing”. This Model is followed closely by the majority of Scrum Practitioners.

Generally, the Team will evolve through these Stages as each Sprint progresses. When the Team is formed (and the Team Building Plan is being drafted), they are in the “Forming” stage, and are a group of people with no association with anybody else in the Team. As they begin Working together, disputes will occur – this is the “Storming” phase. Uneasy for many people, particularly those who try and avoid dispute, however necessary to develop relationships. especially those who try and avoid conflict, but necessary to establish relationships. Only then does the Team progress to a truly Functional Team – the “Norming” Team. Depending on the length of the Project, the number of Iterations and most of all, the Team Dynamics, the “Performing” Team evolves. This is a high-performance Team that will Work at full capacity and high Velocity, delivering a Quality Product.

Maturity Model

The Scrum Master can describe this Maturity Model to the new Team on Formation. The Team will need to develop along these lines. Hopefully, by the 3rd Sprint, the Team will have reached the “Norming” Stage.

Another useful Model to utilize was developed by Dr Meredith Belbin. Dr Meredith Belbin specified 9 different personalities to be found in a Team. This classification can be used as an additional Team-Building exercise at Initiation. This approach helps to introduce each Team member to the others. It defines their personality in relation to the Project. It is a Voyage of Self-Discovery for the Team members.

Team Building Action Plan

When “Team Building” is discussed, people often think of some event, carried out away from the workplace. It could be a good idea to stage a couple of these during the Project. Much of the practice of Scrum subtly Develops the Team spirit. This starts with the definition of Goals and Values, and is enhanced by the Scrum “Ceremonies”, or Meetings, which have a certain ritual to them.

The Team members typically operate in pairs, for example, if Test-Driven-Development is being used. There are also gamification practices and techniques utilized in the Ceremonies, such as “Planning Poker”. This helps with Team Building by encouraging group involvement. It likewise helps the Team to learn more about each other.

This is where the Scrum Master’s Role is crucial. they are the steward of the Scrum Knowledge and Practices. They ensure that the Team sticks to these practices, and develops a Framework for Collaborative Development.

Our Favourite Agile Books

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

What Needs to be Included in the Team Building Action Plan.

First of all, a location must be specified to house the team. Ideally, everyone should be co-located, including the Product Owner (the Voice of the Customer), for the duration of the Project. The equipping of the space should also be specified. The room/space should have space for whiteboards and noticeboards to be used in Meetings. It should display reports, such as the Sprint Backlog and the Burndown Chart.

A roster of Meetings to be held should also be drawn up. This should specify how long the Meetings will be and roughly when they should be held. For instance, the Daily Standup Meeting should be held at the same time each day for 15 minutes. While this might appear like an administrative Task, each Team member is needed to report on what they did yesterday and what they have Planned for today (presuming a morning Meeting).

The Scrum Master is selected to run interference when Stakeholders interfere in or otherwise hinder the Team’s progress. They need to make this clear to both the Team and the Stakeholders. They can do this along with any mediation process that may have been requested.

Team Development

The Scrum Master ought to be able to assess how the Team will Develop and what interventions they will need to introduce to accelerate the Team’s development. They can use their judgement based on previous Scrums that they may have contributed in. The Scrum Master ought to likewise have the ability to identify what will be required to bring reticent Team members out of their shells and moderate over-aggressive behaviour manifested by others. The Sprint Retrospective is a great meeting for this as it can enhance teamwork and improve processes.

The Scrum Master is a Coach and Facilitator. They are a “Servant-Leader” to the team. During the Project, they will be required to modify and Refine the Plan. As a great Scrum Master, they should be able to Work themselves out of a job, to the point where the Team can carry on without their intervention. Ay this point their Plan has succeeded.

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