The SM and Self-Organization

Let’s deal with a few Questions today.

Question 1

Does the ScrumMaster facilitate self-organization?


Question 2

What does that mean?

It’s a bit complicated.

First, many teams at first do not know how to self-organize.  So, the teaching of certain skills may require “less self-organization” at first.

But then, the Team should start to self-organize.  They figure it out themselves.  They work to achieve success (in every dimension).  And this means they know they are responsible for success.  (Although they can also seek help.)

Question 3

Who self-organizes?

Well, everyone.  Mainly the whole Scrum Team.  But each person does.  And any two people can.  And the Dev Team can.  Any combination of the Scrum Team can.  Part of the Scrum plus others can.

About overall success.  About success for this next release of the product.  About the success of the Sprint. About success with one story at a time.

They must use common sense to balance all of that.

Question 4

Can the Scrum Team self-organize away from the organization and away from Scrum?

In general, we do not recommend this.

Yes, the organization needs to be changed (all of them can be improved).  We do not recommend changing it by leaving it.  Although we do recommend sometimes leaving one organization to join another (better) organization.

One result of this is that you must bring your managers along, to some degree.

Regarding Scrum.  Scrum is only a bare framework.  To us, the whole framework is essential.  All of the things outside Scrum proper must be “invented” or chosen by the Team.  And we think in most conditions all of bare framework of Scrum is needed.  And, almost always, the Team is not yet doing all of the bare framework of Scrum, and really is not in a position yet to know what it is missing.

But, at the end of the day, no one can force you to do anything.

If you or your whole team dislikes some key parts of Scrum, it is most likely because of two things: (a) it has not been implemented well at your place (eg, the Retrospective), or (b) you have not yet appreciated the value that it brings (eg, solid 2 week sprints forcing the Team and others to face the truth).

So, it is hard for me to imagine great teams ever getting rid of anything in the Scrum Guide.

Doing experiements about adding or subtracting “things outside the Scrum framework”….that is essential.

Doing experiments to subtract from the Scrum framework?  Barking up the wrong tree, seems most likely.



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