9

I have been working with a Scrum Team and also a Kanban team for about 6 months and 10 months respectively.

The Scrum team hasn't shown any improvement and I haven't really managed to impact the management of the team either.

As a Scrum Master, is there anyway I can measure whether I have made any impact and when I should consider giving up?

  • 4
    when you say the "the Scrum team hasn't shown any improvement", what are you trying to improve? Velocity, reduction of bugs, the team hates each other still? – NKCampbell Aug 15 at 21:11
  • Yes, you can definitely use a simple metric. Is your team able to deliver on the sprint goal regularly? If yes, then you are already on right track. Improvement comes in terms of Scrum maturity or the change in mindset. Are you able to work on every single item in retrospective and fix those issues? Are your sprint retrospective becoming less of "what not to do" and more of "what should we continue doing"? If you can answer these questions, you can measure your impact. Although don't expect to be able to plot a graph or create an excel sheet of the same. – jitendragarg Aug 22 at 8:42
14

The key to team improvement is good retrospectives.

When I started running retrospectives, I found they often just degenerated into whingeing sessions that didn't achieve much, other than giving the team an opportunity to vent our frustrations.

Now I go into the retrospective with a clear goal, stated at the beginning of each one:

We're here to find what we, the team, most want to improve, and decide on how we'll do that.

I keep tight time-boxes on the main phases:

  1. Summarise what happened in the sprint.
  2. Individually, write good/bad/ugly memories on stickies.
  3. As a team, group the stickies into themes, and pick the most important one (possibly two, but no more).
  4. Brainstorm ideas for the improvement activity (i.e. sustain a good thing, or reduce a bad thing).
  5. Refine the best ideas so that they are concrete actions with a result you can measure (look up SMART criteria if you haven't already).

Remember, as a Scrum Master, your role isn't necessarily to make the improvements yourself; the key trait is to facilitate the team. So the important thing is ensuring that the Retrospective takes place, and kept on track towards its outputs (the improvement activities).

Once you have the improvement activities agreed, then the Scrum Master can be monitoring the agreed metric, and checking that the improvement activity is actually happening. This can involve reminding team members of what they agreed to do in the meeting; I find it helpful to have the list of improvement actions visible in the stand-up area, so that we are all reminded of them every day, and can have a quick check of our progress towards them as well as to our sprint goals.

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    To this end, the purpose of a retrospective is not to complain about what happened last sprint. A retrospective's purpose is for the team to learn how to do better going forward, and it happens to focus on what happened last sprint. – Cort Ammon Aug 16 at 3:57
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There are many things you can do, but the first thing I would start with is a coaching agreement. I've seen very simple and very complex coaching agreements, but all of them hit a few key points:

  1. How will the coach work with those being coached?
  2. What do those being coached want to improve on?
  3. Do we understand and acknowledge that the coach can't improve for the team or leaders - they can only help accelerate their own improvements?

This gives you something to refer back to when people are 'too busy' for coaching. It also tells you where people are open to improvement so you can focus your efforts there.

After this, I recommend creating a regular cadence of coaching and improvement. For a scrum team, the sprint cycle works well with the retro at the end of it. Each retro should have 1 (or 2 tops) action item. It isn't required, but I always recommend that an action item specifies the thing that's happening that is either challenging and they want to improve or good and they want to capitalize on; what the action item is; how they think it will improve the situation; and how they will measure that improvement.

And now you have measurable improvement...

You don't have to stop here. You can also build a coaching wall (pull your fellow Scrum Masters into this). Over 5 or 6 weeks, keep a running set of notes on what you're helping your team with. This builds a narrative of how you've helped the team improve. If you do it with other Scrum Masters and teams, you can also pick up on common trends across the organization.

1

Having made an impact is a very broad, undefined statement. There are soft elements (team morale, engagement, ...), delivery elements (what have the teams delivery and in what fashion) and there are hard data facts.

I feel the first 2 are already covered in the answers above - what I am missing is what kind of hard evidence (metrics) have you identified to potentially quantify impact. For instance, metrics around:

  • Is our delivery capability improving?
  • Where are my delivery risks?
  • How accurate are my estimates on delivery?
  • Are my teams collaborating to ensure quality and avoid risks?
  • Which capabilities/teams/partners are causing delays and issues? Are they repetitive?
  • Are we becoming more Agile?

These are some of the questions scrum, delivery & team managers we work with look at.

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