Collaboration is maybe the most important quality to Scrum teams. The core of Scrum is to maximize the collaboration between the team members, but also between the team and the Product Owner  (and the customer). This is important both small single team projects and bigger multiple team projects.

In the retrospectives the previous sprint is evaluated and improvements identified.

Don’t forget  the collaboration aspect in the sprint retrospectives. It is way too important to neglect!

  • How can we improve our daily stand-ups?
  • How can we get the product owner more involved in our work? How can we help him to groom the product backlog?
  • How can we improve the collaboration with other teams in our project?

So, in the next retrospective, try to focus on the collaboration side.

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The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing is a model of group development, first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has become the basis for subsequent models.

Each team is unique and has its own strengths and weaknesses. To really work together as a team the people need to get to know each other. Tuckman’s teamwork theory is working pretty well to show what phases a team should pass to be productive. It’s important the team moves on to reach the Performing phase. Some teams may need help to reach this phase as the get stuck in storming or norming phases.

For more details read Bruce Tuckman’s Teamwork Theory: Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.

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The team is not working effectively without any effort from the individuals in the team. The people need to have certain skills to enable real teamwork. Some people have easier than others. If you got a team of experts that cannot cooperate, then you will never benefit of the of power of teamwork.

Jason Little has created a list of skills needed for teamwork:

  • Active Listening
  • Questioning
  • Logical Argument
  • Respecting
  • Helping
  • Sharing
  • Participating

Please check out Agile Mashup » Seven Essential Teamwork Skills for descriptions of these skills.

The classic co-located team is always the the best option. This set-up is not always feasible and distributed virtual team is used instead. There are a number of challenges for virtual teams:

The benefits to Agile virtual teams don’t come without corresponding challenges. These include:

  • Juggling time zones to accommodate mutual meeting times
  • Challenges to building trust; teams may question the approach of other teams
  • Lack of an understanding of the business drivers
  • Cultural differences between team members or entire teams
  • Lack of coordination, which can potentially result in redundancy of developed modules
  • Disjointed communications or inadequate teleconference etiquette

via SEI Quarterly | Turn on a Dime: Leveraging Agile Development with Virtual Teams.

My name is Henrik Larsson and I interviewing Jason Yip, Agile/Lean consultant at ThoughWorks.

Q: Jason, can you tell me a little bit about the article “It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns of Daily Stand-up Meetings” and why you wrote it?

From what I recall, the initial trigger was Phillip Laplante’s article about why he hated standup meetings. When I read it, it reminded me of the dysfunctions I had been seeing in how people were doing daily stand-ups. It seems like such a simple practice and yet I was repeatedly seeing it done wrong, or at least sub-optimally. I figured it was worth trying to address this by publishing something that people could use as a reference and point others to. The article was my attempt to gather the state of the art in thinking and practice about how do stand-ups well.

Q: Why do you think Daily Stand-ups are so powerful?

At a minimum, it gets people talking to each other which is actually a big deal in many places. Beyond the minimum, a well-run standup is very effective at exposing problems. Of course, what happens after problems are detected is even more important.

Q: When did you first read or hear about stand-up meetings?

This was back in 1999 or 2000 when learning about Extreme Programming. I don’t remember exactly but it was probably the Portland Pattern Repository (i.e., the original wiki) where I first read about it.

Q: Has your view on Daily Stand-ups changed during these years?

Yes, definitely. I used to see it more about status. Then I shifted to see it more about commitment, mainly due to Mike Cohn’s writings. These days, I see it as more about problem-solving. My current preference is much more strongly toward a “walk-the-board” style of stand-up when a task / story board is available. I tend to emphasise much more the importance of focusing on completing work versus just people trying to be busy.

Having said that, there are still some aspects that haven’t changed over the years, such as the importance of keeping the ritual high-energy and being about sharing with the team versus reporting to
a leader.

Q: VersionOne just recently published the results from “State of Agile Survey 2009”. The survey shows that Daily Stand-up is the second most popular agile technique. Why do you think stand-up meetings are so popular?

Perhaps a cynical answer but I would say because it seems easy to do.

Q: What single thing do you think is most important to get right for a team using Daily Stand-up meetings? Why?

Understand why you’re doing the stand-up. You’re sharing information so that the whole team can achieve their objective. If this is not clear, then you’re really just wasting time.

Q: The classic three questions (What did?/What will?/Impediments?) is the basic agenda of Daily Stand-up meetings. Many teams are improving and customizing these meetings. Have you seen any customizations that could be beneficial for many other teams?

The “walk-the-board” style is something that many teams should consider trying. In general, have the work items (i.e., user stories) ask the questions rather than the people. What happened to the story yesterday? What is going to happen to the story today? What is impeding the story from progressing?

The Daily Scrum Meeting is the primary meeting for team members (chickens) in Scrum. Do you think that this technique could successfully be used outside the software development community? Where and how?

Short, daily meetings are already used outside the software development community. For example, most Lean environments have been using them before the concept became popular in software development
circles. I don’t see anything particularly software development specific about daily stand-ups.

Sterling Bartin wrote:

Meet Carrie pretend that is her real name. The team she is part of is “sort of” collocated. Most of them occupy a portion of a massive cube farm that makes collaboration a one or two person event at a time. The Daily Stand-Up meeting is not a sit-down and lasts about a half-hour. On the other hand, they joke and laugh and have a good time for about 15 minutes before settling into the real purpose of the meeting.

Don’t forget that you must build your team by having fun and share common culture (and jokes). If you don’t sit together in a war-room, you may want to extend the daily meeting with a few minutes of having fun.

via Getting Agile » The Daily 15 Minutes of Fun.

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