Each member of an organization has a title or designation that may reflect their responsibilities or profession. These titles may include BA, Tester, Developer, QA, PM, and others. It is normal to be proud of our accomplishments, achievements and titles. Unfortunately in a Scrum team these titles can limit the individual and adversely effect the team. These same titles can label the individual as that role (example – as a tester) and only that role. Within a Scrum team we certainly need the skills, knowledge and abilities that come with that title/role, but we do not want to limit that person to being viewed as only that role. Each of us is the sum total of our experience, education, values, upbringing and history. All of this is of value to the team. We should encourage every member to fully participate on the team, to willingly share their expertise, to contribute to non-traditional tasks and to feel they are valued as a complete person rather than a specifically titled individual. So if the goal is to leave your title behind, then it is implied you can also pick up other skills.
So how can this be accomplished. One way is a Skills Matrix. This is a chart that can be posted in the room to identify the skills needed and the people on the team. On the left column you list all the team members. Along the top you list all the various skills you need on the team. Then each person reviews their row, looking at each skill, and then identifies how many quadrants of each circle they can fill in, based on the range below the chart. The range is from no skills through to teach all skills in a given column. After filling the columns and rows, now the work begins. By using pair programming (an extreme programming method) and other methods like self-study and taking additional courses, the team member can begin to learn other skills. The objective is to have at least two persons on each team who possess each of the skills at the level of performing all the tasks of a specific skill. The goal is not to have every one do everything but to have a least enough people with specific skills to cover sicknesses and vacations so that required tasks are performed. This is a method to capture the full extend of each person’s current knowledge, skills and abilities and expand on it.
Since they are hard to see, here are the labels for the number of quadrants:
0: no skill
1: basic knowledge
2: perform basic tasks
3: perform all tasks (expert)
4: teach all tasks