Episode 003 - Scrum … Part 1

In today’s podcast, I am running solo … Lee wasn’t able to join me for this podcast but he will be back for Episode 005! You will hear part 1 of an interview I did with Rene Tyner, a Certified Scrum Master and PMP Certified Project Manager, discussing Scrum, an Agile project methodology primarily used for software application development projects. This interview was so packed full of great information that I didn’t want to cut out a thing … so, I am releasing it in two parts! I also cover some listener feedback and have included links to the resources George Nattey shared with us to share with you all! Enjoy!

Click here to listen to this project management podcast!

Helpful Resources:

Click here for George Nattey’s revised Risk Management Plan spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel)
Carnegy Mellon/SEI Risk Management site (overview of Risk Management)

Australian Standard 4360 Risk management portal

Link to information on Scrum


4 Responses to “Episode 003 - Scrum … Part 1”  

  1. 1 arrowpa

    I believe it was your friend Rene Tyner in this podcast who talked about having to roll someone off her scrum team. It was a good story, one that sounded totally believable. Some were shocked, some were clueless, yet others were upset. It’s a tough call when a manager of any level has to make the recommendation to remove someone from their project. Not only can it be damning to that individual, but to the one recommending the change. Many upper managers see such a recommendation as failure on the manager’s part (or in case of Agile, the ‘teams’ part). So my question for you (Dina), Rene, and others is “can you really remove someone from your project?”

    Projects have all different types of performers. I suspect as with most projects, the collective team would be fine leaving the mix as-is…regardless the results.

    Thanks,

    Paul Arrowood
    Scrum Master

  2. 2 Dina

    Hi Paul - You’re absolutely right. Voting someone off the island can cause issues for the voter as well as the votee. :-) In this particular case, this person was not a fit for our company either. It was really brought to light early on because this person was on the Scrum team. It is pretty hard to hide incompetence or distructive personality issues on a Scrum team. Luckily, Rene is a great PM and she knew exactly how to make sure she helped this person and the team do everything they could to make it work first, then worked with her project sponsor and the person’s functional manager to try and correct the issues. Multiple interventions didn’t solve the problem and it took a little while but eventually, the person left the team and the company at the same time. It shook up her team a bit but they recovered. The person who stepped in for the removed team member turned out to be a great addition.

    I’ve had some experience with having to change out team members on my projects. Usually, if someone is really having a hard time on the team and not producing, they aren’t happy either. Happy people do good work. Simple concept maybe but it’s been my experience that it is true. On a project team or especialy on a Scrum team, there is no room for someone not carrying their weight. The team will only pick up the slack for so long before there is a revolt. When this happens, I sit down and talk very directly and clearly with the person about what the expectations are for their ability to deliver on the project. Sticking with describing their behaviors and the impacts or lack thereof, of those behaviors on the success of the team. Trying to separate out the person from the behavior. In one instance, it was very enlightening for this person to learn how their behavior was affecting everything else. The end result was that he came to the conclusion that being on this project team was not for him and luckily, we both had the option to have him reassigned to another project that he was a better fit on. The other instance … well, let’s just say it wasn’t a fun time for me. I ended up taking a lot of heat but ultimately the person was reassigned. Although, I would have done some things differently during this time, I did not regret addressing the issues and trying to have this person removed from the project.

    Thanks for your input and writing in!

  3. 3 arrowpa

    Dina,

    Thanks for the quick response. I think your approach and experience offers sage advice for anyone dealing with personnel issues. It’s paramount to address from a “this is what’s expected”, and “this is what we’re getting” perspective. Generally people can gauge the gap on their own and understand the message being delivered.

    I’m running my second scrum and have felt on both projects that I didn’t know how to make team assignment changes.  Agile (Scrum) can really expose not only your culture, but your processes, employees and their skills as well. And on a high-exposure pathfinder Agile project, I’m curious how others (Rene especially) have adjusted team members.

    Even though I’ve watched probably only 2-3 episodes out of the nearly 10 seasons of Survivor, I likened this scenario in Agile to that TV show because of the group dynamics. Those folks learn the hard way how to address performance problems and the island [office] dynamics that come with such decisions. Recommend someone to be voted off but yet they stay–now they know you don’t want them. Get them successfully voted off and now everyone else knows how you work the game. Survivor turns the heat up each week, which a project hopefully never has to go through this even once. But those are the challenges to which I was referring. I’ve got good, bad, and indifferent performers. I suspect everyone on the project would be fine leaving them in the room (even if it meant slower-than-necessary project delivery, or worse, non-delivery). I’ve had the courage to seek counsel from outside the project (i.e. to xyz resources’ development manager). But to actually make the move, it would have to come from the outside because the inside (the project team) would never vote/recommend such a thing, and no one person ON the team has that authority.

    Welcoming your (and Rene’s?) reply!

    Thanks,

    Paul Arrowood

  4. 4 ReneTyner

    We tried everything to make the team work – especially since this was our companies very first scrum team.

    We had the team go through additional ’soft skills’ training, compiled a team agreement of how they would work together, and had numerous attempts at resolving the conflicts.

    When we looked at the big picture, all of this was being done to accommodate one person. When it wasn’t working and the behavior of the team member was not improving I went to management to recommend removal.

    This may not be considered a ScrumMaster role; however, it is my job to remove impediments. This resource was being an impediment to the productivity of the team. Too much time was being wasted on trying to resolve conflicts. Conflicts that should have never been a conflict to begin with.

    After the person was removed, the team dynamics improved tremendously and we haven’t had any issues since.


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