Stop it with refreshers

In my years of taking on a coaching role the most common request I’ve gotten was “can we get a refresher on Scrum?” coming from people who have been doing the work for months if not years. I then ask why which leads to the real conversation about what’s really bugging them. You get into the stories of what goes on during planning, how the backlog is managed, how the team interacts and the picture starts to become clearer. Knowing Scrum or whatever framework ain’t gonna help you.

In practice I’ve never really had any problems that were caused by “not knowing Scrum well enough” which is literally the only problem that can be solved by doing refreshers. In my experience though there are many problems like

  • a PO unable to or incapable of prioritizing a team’s backlog
  • more work consistently comes in while we’re in the middle of a sprint
  • our backlog is a mess and we don’t understand the work that needs to be done
  • we’re always committing too much work
  • we do retrospectives but nothing really gets better
  • I can’t get my teammates to do code reviews | review my pull requests
  • there is a team member who never finishes anything on time
  • we spend too much time planning and refining the work we do instead of actually doing it
  • our superstar engineer is a shining example of how 20% of your team creates 80% of the value
  • we carry over too much work from sprint to sprint
  • our stand-ups take forever and its a wastiwng our time
  • we have dependencies with other teams that are blocking us
  • how do we visualize the work that we do?
  • we don’t know how to manage people going on vacation during planning

which aren’t solved by knowing the Scrum guide better. Knowing something and having the capability, experience and more importantly willingness to do something about it.

This brings me to the point I want to make, the real world is complex and thinking that your team’s problems can be solved by better understanding a 14 page document that takes less than half an hour to read is absolutely silly. Scrum isn’t that complicated and the people you work with are more than capable of reading the document and understanding it, your problems don’t come from a lack of understanding of the Scrum Guide. Your problems come from the real world of doing the work, where theory meets practice, experience and all the emotional scars you’ve gained from working in the industry. While there are many places you can explore to find answers to your problems, the best place to start is just by taking courage and bringing it to light in front of your team, acknowledging that improvements need to be done then figuring it out together.

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash