Today in English. Reasoned by the fact that the affected and currently supported team does not speak (or read) German.

Why this article can be interesting for everyone.

Recently I received a wonderful feedback. In addition, I received an invitation to share the description and the text with you. So I had to write about the method used. In addition, some points might be interesting for other teams as well.

The scenario

Briefly to the context: As an Agile Coaches we sometimes support teams and individuals with our special mix of methods. In this case I have the opportunity to accompany an offshore (SCRUM) team for some time.
After a period full of observations and different measures, we got to a point where the team had a little bit of … received too much positive feedback and took off a bit too far. As a result, a few laboriously built up rules of conduct broke down. Time to tackle the problem.

About criticism within the team and the method

But there is one thing you need to know: Not every culture deals with criticism in the same way. Of course, this differs from person to person. Nevertheless, in this case it was important for me to address everything directly, to address everyone and at the same time not to expose anyone. So in this case I decided on an anti-hero story. The wonderful one:

– A story is memorable.
– A story is easier to understand.
– An (anti)-hero story is personal and impersonal at the same time (and cool) by the actor.

In this case, I decided to stigmatize myself as an anti-hero. So I could be the object being observed. The criticism was related to me and at the same time it was clear that I meant the team. I learned the technique from Bodei on the Nomad Cruise 6 (trying to improve it, Bodei :-)).

Here is the story

About the team / Sprint – How to make life hard…

If there are dependencies from one (User) Story to another or third party, I would -never- state it clearly – immediately or as soon as the dependency has been observed. I love to be under pressure or risk the Sprint Goal in the last minutes of our Sprint.

Also, if we’re not collocated and work in different time zones, I would never update JIRA in a last task of my work on a story. Neither updating the story with current information. I love to imagine my colleagues reporting to the management: “I don’t have a clue what is going on, but they are good boys”.

Assigning issues to individuals during the planning ONE and TWO (Task Breakdown) is not a thing I do. It’s like hunting. Be fast and grab your preferred issues first. Yes, this might cause misunderstandings and anger with my colleagues. But damn! I love being a victim of it! Who cares about coordination?

Doing so combined with my general idea about the strategy: “Code over Communication” (CoC or [Cock!]) helps me and others to do single long work days and nights. I like the confusion about the progress the next morning – in special in combination with my: Don’t update JIRA strategy.

I could see, that some scrum events, like the refinement are too short. Or moreover, I’d like to restructure the handling of the events. But hey! If I keep my opinion to myself there will be the day when I can say: “I told you so”. And I love this moment to see the entire team stop with collaboration.

Being late or completely absence causes my teammates to wait a couple of minutes because they think: “He might join” or better, I skip it and don’t have to talk then at all. Why would I talk about obstacles, state questions about business relevant features or so on?

Anyway, who cares about the team mates. If they are in time, their fault. I’m special, I’m more important, and to state clear: Every other project, request, meeting or whatever -is- more important than a Team Meeting.

Team and Feature Freeze

This idea of the Feature Freeze*1) . They tell me, “Then you have time for testing” or “Take the time for Sprint Demo preparation” or “Check the quality of your results, code and documentation” or “Take the time to improve team skills and/or Spirit” but…

*1) The teams work with Feature Freeze times for the last day of each sprint.

First, I don’t like to the Idea at all. I’m a machine! Which needs to code! Who cares about things like: quality and Team Marketing, I am! So, everyone must know how good I am!

If something is ready to test – Why would I tell something verbally or via text? I use JIRA! Everyone: Look at JIRA all the time throughout the whole day. If there is something moving. You’re officially informed about the Progress and I want you to start immediately with -whatever- stupid things you want to do after my work.

And… If someone asks me I tell: Let me do it, it’s not part of the release and thus, the Feature freeze doesn’t apply. This offers me the chance to -not- help with the other testing stuff, preparing the Demo or so on.

And finally:  From other perspective: Whom should I test with? Why would I directly state: NO! I need a test schedule with all relevant persons otherwise I can’t proceed. And why would I try to schedule it? I’ll wait some weeks and things will be ok again. That’s what works in Hollywood Motion Pictures. So…?

About the Demo

This Sprint Demo… What an awful event. I mean, this is an opportunity to let people see that there is a performing team with relevant results. But, I really like more to code (code over communication – you already know it). So, what could I do to make them skipping this Event?

The masterplan: First – I’ll be absolutely surprised that there is a Sprint Demo on Tuesday (as it is every two weeks… same time… same place. This allows me to:

Provide the topics I would have to present just a couple of minutes or hours before. This enables stakeholders to: Not visit us;  Be absolutely confused about missing parts or;  Not to recognize me at all. Yes, first: Someone would need so see me, ask me several times to provide a Demo Topic and squeeze out of me how to show it. The only way to show something for me is to click somewhere. Nothing to click on – wasted time for me. Everything else is a wrong topic.

If I need help with preparing stuff, uploading or reviewing my Demo stuff as well as talking about general sprint info. I ask the SM a minute before or during the Demo itself. Causing him to run around and make people laugh about the entire Team.

Main goal: Sneak out of this Event. As well as not paying any attention to the other teams and their stuff. So now comes the actual planned result:

Less attention from other Teams and Management

Without Attention: No support (they will “Forget” us) helping hands like [Supporting Roles], no travels and of course: Communication will be German language, only again!

In result, not being invited or handled as an English-speaking remote worker allows me to complain about the others and no one can do something about it.

Team Feedback

Guys, where are we now. What are we doing and why is all this happening. Why do we behave like victims and why don’t we act?

I want us to stop doing [Cock] (coc)-work.

I want us to handle each other with Respect. Everyone can read “between the lines” and “between the lines” is exactly where the current problem zone is located.

We are measured as a Team. No individual special so-called extra work is relevant and ends with a positive result.

The good thing is: We still have Sprint results. Now is the chance to change something without harming the general progress and our collaboration.

Organizational Actions

OK this is veeery individual. In sum: There were some actions regarding Scrum Event setup, Meeting rules, DoD and DoR and every Role has now a Meeting and other responsibilities to take care of. Now it’s clear that the Product is a baby of the entire team.

Afterwards

The team decided to review this story again and again. As a memorial to all who behave accordingly. Here and there comes a suggestion for new anti-hero examples. At the moment they really enjoy exchanging criticism. These stories are laughed at and thought about. Therefore, this method will definitely move into my toolbox. And so, in our Workshops for Agile and into the Coaching concept.
Maybe I will be able to publish these again here. Maybe you also have some? 🙂

And of course, something happened. The Teamwork improved – A LOT. So this method definitely

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