I always love the articles written by Glen Wang, one of my former students. He has written another good one called “Manage Objectives, Actions, and Uncertainty in Scrum“. I’ve added a bit of feedback because I think there are some important changes that need to be made to the article, but overall I love the concepts, information and presentation.
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:
Since the Scrum Team only includes three roles: ScrumMaster, Product Owner, and the Team Members, there is no need to have other people on the team. Each of the Scrum roles has a specific function that requires their full-time attention. These roles are all the roles necessary to accomplish the creation of a high-performance Scrum Team. Adding people to the team who have any other roles will hinder the team from engaging in the requisite amount of self-organizing behaviour.
There are three roles on a Scrum Team, no more and no less. These roles are: ScrumMaster, Product Owner, and the Team Members. It is critical to have all three roles present on the Scrum Team to get all needed responsibilities taken care of in an effective way. The Product Owner is responsible for the product and how the team connects with that product. The ScrumMaster is responsible for improving the use of Scrum in the organization and team, as well as removing any obstacles that slow the team down. The Team Members are responsible for getting the work done by self-organizing and finding ways to improve their own process and work. Without one of these key roles, the team would be missing a key focus and job. As well, Scrum specifically disallows any other roles on the Scrum Team. A person who has an official role of Tester cannot be on a Scrum Team. However, the same person, if given the official role of Team Member can be on a Scrum Team. If people have their official titles, performance evaluations etc. done in their traditional roles, it hinders self-organizing and causes conflicts of interest. A team is not a Scrum Team until those old roles are eliminated.