The Great Divide…in a Scrum Team

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A major hurdle that teams often overcome is the cross-functional, self-organizing team. The importance of this cannot be overstated. It is a fundamental cultural change that must occur. Failure to embrace this key scrum component will have big consequences on your Agile transformation journey.

One such component is the single scrum developer role for those who create and expand the usable Increment. This is juxtaposed to the customary separation of development and quality assurance engineers. When the scrum team retains both roles, trouble is at the door.

Will collaborative team ownership win out over traditional ways of dividing the work? Will the developer join in swarm testing? Will the QA engineer take on product coding? Will the team prioritize cross-training for all to attain a full skillset?

A way to begin addressing this at the cultural level is to employ a single job description. One company I know implemented this in a creative way by identifying all software developers, quality assurance engineers, and technical writers as Software Designers. This led to a foundational change, blurring the lines between roles, cementing the desired cultural change.

The real transformation occurs at the team level. It can simply start with a single engineer who volunteers to take on an unfamiliar task – estimating a full story, writing an end-to-end test, documenting a feature. The engineer made a small sacrifice by going outside their comfort zone. It’s the little sacrifices that engineers make that sets the example. Other engineers learn from it and make the same sacrifices. This is servant-leadership within the team, and it is contagious.

Delivering value on cadence is a big enough challenge. Eliminating the Great Divide amongst a development team is a huge enabler for teams to deliver that value.

“The teams became more productive, the work became more predictable, and the age old arguments about goals, resource allocations, and ownership took a back seat – replaced by camaraderie and a good natured competitive spirit.”

Tom Munro
CEO Verimatrix
“The teams became more productive, the work became more predictable, and the age old arguments about goals, resource allocations, and ownership took a back seat – replaced by camaraderie and a good natured competitive spirit.”

Tom Munro
CEO Verimatrix
“The teams became more productive, the work became more predictable, and the age old arguments about goals, resource allocations, and ownership took a back seat – replaced by camaraderie and a good natured competitive spirit.”

Tom Munro
CEO Verimatrix