Your cultural anti-patterns are AMPLIFIED by remote work. Are you ready? (Tips for Scrum Masters)

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Scrum Masters often have to face cultural anti-patterns when working with teams, and the organizations they are part of. Those cultural anti-patterns are being amplified by the move to #Remote work due to the #covid19 situation.

What can we do? How can we get ready?

Here are some tips to get you started or to help you further adapt to this new reality.

Lack of transparency is even worse when #Remote

There are many Scrum Masters that come on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast and share stories that relate to a culturally-engrained lack of transparency. This lack of transparency takes many forms:

  • Team members don’t share their struggles in the Daily Standup because they perceive that as a sign of weakness (for example)
  • Product Owners don’t share the reasons why certain changes are brought into the Sprint, perhaps because they themselves don’t know
  • Other teams we collaborate with don’t share changes to a dependency we have on them

Whatever symptoms of lack of transparency you experienced when working in the same office, those symptoms will only get worse when our organization moves to #Remote work. Some of the reasons are:

  • Individuals are less engaged and motivated due to the stress, or being distracted by the presence of children while they work, or because they don’t see (and therefore don’t take into account) their colleagues during the day
  • Sudden tasks or priority shifts are communicated to individuals, and the rest of the team isn’t physically present to witness that change
  • Now that we’re distributed we miss out on all the spontaneous collaboration that used to happen.
  • etc.

Tips for Scrum Masters to increase transparency and foster collaboration

As Scrum Masters, we must be deliberate about improving transparency and collaboration in #Remote teams. Our domain of expertise is collaboration, and we must keep adapting to enable collaboration at all times. Here are some tips, that may help you improve transparency, information sharing, and collaboration between team members and with other teams: 

  • Have a collective retrospective with the teams on which your team has regular dependencies
  • Discuss with the Product Owner how to share changes to the Sprint so that all team members are aware and can share their possible impact on the work they have to finish
  • Move to a shorter Sprint. Agile is about creating more, and faster, feedback loops. As we go #Remote those feedback loops are even more important. Shorter sprints provide more transparency (problems are found faster), makes the amount of work smaller which helps with clarity (shorter stories), and with identifying and solving process problems in the team, and across teams
  • Have 2 daily check-ins

  • Integrate more often. If you are integrating with dependant teams at the end of the Sprint, consider bringing their work into your daily build pipeline, or assign specific team members on both teams to work on integration from the start of the sprint
  • Track dependencies on other teams just like you would a User Story. Understanding of dependencies will grow during the Sprint. Make sure you are covering that dependency on the Daily Standup if nothing else to learn that “everything is proceeding according to plan”
  • Create an URGENT Slack/Teams channel, so that team members can always explicitly ask for help to solve a problem they are facing. When #Remote, even waiting one more day can make the problem harder to find.

When we are #Remote, collaboration and cooperation are harder to achieve, and transparency can be a critical trigger for that collaboration to flourish. Consider what you can do as a Scrum Master to improve collaboration. Every day.
Stay Safe, #StayHome

More tips, and more insights from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

We have started a page to help you deal with the reality of #Remote work. Bookmark this page to easily access all the tips we share related to #Remote work. In this page you will find blog posts, as well as links to the YouTube videos of our LIVE Q&A sessions with #Remote work experts!

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