When we started our agile project we were doing everything by the book. Over time, this has somewhat slipped into a more relaxed style. We still get the information we need, share what needs sharing and communicate effectively. I am now wondering if we should pull on their reigns a little and get more formal again.

Is the time spent as a team getting to know each other and more comfortable in the meetings conducive to ineffective group work and something to be controlled or (assuming the stories are progressing well) is it ok to let formality slide a little?

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    What do hope to gain from becoming more formal? – Erik Oct 29 at 11:40
  • I'm asking if we should by virtue of the practice/process not what we might gain. As you ask, I hope to gain a better process and thus better output. I want to balance that against the gain we have achieved by not strictly sticking to the formal process. I assume that, at some point, the balance will become negative and am asking if anyone can point to a good indicator of where that might lie? – Matt W Oct 29 at 12:46
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    Effectiveness comes first. Process for its own sake is wasted effort. The purpose behind the formal process is to achieve excactly the kind of synergy your team has developed. You are proposing to dial back on success. As long as what you're experiencing is not causing the team to drop the ball, you're good. This is what improved efficiency looks like. I always tell people that any process or artifact that exists only so that it may be audited is a waste of time, and it is the audit that must be changed in that case. – MarkTO Oct 29 at 17:14
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This question is a bit difficult to answer without knowing your team's dynamics. That said, it's always good to understand and verbalize the goals of each event and to make sure those goals are met throughout the ceremony, even if things are running smoothly. Timeboxes are only there to ensure you don't go over the allotted time. In the event you hit the goal of a ceremony early, all the better.

I work in an environment with a mature team that is really gelling at the moment and I always remind myself: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Process takes a backseat to human connection and collaboration. Once the team's effective communication is in good shape, we can focus on the processes that give our team the framework they need to excel. The Scrum framework thrives when the values are embraced. Once those values are embraced, the process and tools become that much more effective.

  • I agree about the dynamics. I also ask the question because I can hear previous scrum masters in the back of my head saying "you're missing this out" or "you should be doing this". Thing is, we're getting the same result as when we were doing those things. So, at least for now, I have to land on the side of people rather than process. It's working. – Matt W Oct 29 at 13:45
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    While I'm sure other Scrum Masters have valuable input, we all know no two teams are the same. The impostor syndrome is alive and well in the SM community, and the canned advice is abundant. It's good to see a fellow SM be honest with their introspection. Questions are valuable. Thanks for asking and good luck with your team! – dom_michalec Oct 29 at 13:52

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