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Leaving your title at the Scrum team room door and pick up new skills!

by Jim Heidema, 18 June 2013 | The Agile Blogosphere

This content is syndicated from Agile Advice - Working With Agile Methods (Scrum, OpenAgile, Lean) by Jim Heidema. To view the original post in full, click here.

Each member of an organization has a title or designation that may reflect their responsibilities or profession.  These titles may include BA, Tester, Developer, QA, PM, and others.  It is normal to be proud of our accomplishments, achievements and titles.  Unfortunately in a Scrum team these titles can limit the individual and adversely effect the team.  These same titles can label the individual as that role (example – as a tester) and only that role.  Within a Scrum team we certainly need the skills, knowledge and abilities that come with that title/role, but we do not want to limit that person to being viewed as only that role.  Each of us is the sum total of our experience, education, values, upbringing and history.  All of this is of value to the team.  We should encourage every member to fully participate on the team, to willingly share their expertise, to contribute to non-traditional tasks and to feel they are valued as a complete person rather than a specifically titled individual.   So if the goal is to leave your title behind, then it is implied you can also pick up other skills.
So how can this be accomplished.  One way is a Skills Matrix.   This is a chart that can be posted in the room to identify the skills needed and the people on the team.   On the left column you list all the team members.  Along the top you list all the various skills you need on the team.  Then each person reviews their row, looking at each skill, and then identifies how many quadrants of each circle they can fill in, based on the range below the chart.  The range is from no skills through to teach all skills in a given column.  After filling the columns and rows, now the work begins.  By using pair programming (an extreme programming method) and other methods like self-study and taking additional courses, the team member can begin to learn other skills.  The objective is to have at least two persons on each team who possess each of the skills at the level of performing all the tasks of a specific skill.  The goal is not to have every one do everything but to have a least enough people with specific skills to cover sicknesses and vacations so that required tasks are performed.  This is a method to capture the full extend of each person’s current knowledge, skills and abilities and expand on it.

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One Response to “Leaving your title at the Scrum team room door and pick up new skills!”

  1. Kelly Waters says:

    Thanks for posting Jim. You had me right up until the point when you mentioned a skills matrix. I really don’t think you need to list skills and rate your ability etc in order to step up when there is something the team needs doing, that you have the skills to do, but isn’t necessarily your normal job title. You just need to agree as a team that you will be flexible about roles and responsibilities rather than hung up on job titles, so everyone feels empowered to help with things that aren’t *their job* if it helps the team.

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