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What happened at the Regional Scrum Gathering in Durban 2018?

Regional Scrum Gathering Durban

AUTHOR: Malene Marie Bendixen Jacobsen, Agile Coach

Yet another gathering has been concluded and it is time to take a look back at what we’ve learned from it. I had the pleasure of being a speaker at this year’s Regional Scrum Gathering, where I spoke about tips and tricks for Scrum Masters, facilitators and coaches on how to make outstanding sessions based on brain science (maybe I will create a blog post later to sum up my own talk).
In this blog post I will focus on some key lessons I found inspiring from the sessions I had time to join.

Change by attraction – Esther Derby

My favorite talk at the gathering was the keynote address from Esther Derby on change by attraction filled with tricks on how to make change easier. The following was part of what had been discussed:

1. Strive for congruence

2. Honor the past

3. Assess what is

4. Pay attention to networks

5. Experiment

6. Guide, don’t standardise

7. Use yourself – you are your most important tool for change
– Empathy, Creativity, Compassion, Problem-solving, and the ability to take action.

A practical look into self-selecting teams – Bevan Williams

Bevan’s talk was quite inspiring as he discussed how the company he works for tested self-selecting teams, and the success of it all. The idea started for Bevan with the book ‘Creating Great Teams’ by Sandy Mamoli and David Mole.

He shared with us how even though fellow employees work in different locations, they still did the self-selecting of teams by doing it all remotely. There were a lot of great takeaways from Bevans talk, but I will try to limit it here.

What was really inspiring to me was his take on getting the Product Owner to sell their product or project by sharing the vision and sparking people’s interest in the product. Instead of looking at the skill-set of people and placing them in teams based on their skills, people could choose out of interest what product they wanted to work on. The only condition in the selection was that each person should think about if it would benefit the company if they were part of that team. With that in mind, they made sure that people would select a team where they liked the product vision but where they also could contribute to it.

One of the key elements for people to be motivated is for them to work on something with purpose. People should automatically be motivated by selecting a product they believe in, and this should result in better performance. In my opinion, if people are motivated, they can move mountains!

A lot of companies struggle with the motivation of their employees, they do events, bonuses, and competitions, to name a few, all in an attempt to motivate – maybe the next step for your company should be to just try out the idea of self-selecting teams?

How it was practically done(short version) was in rounds where the Product Owner would “sell” the product and people would choose their team, they would continue running rounds until everyone had selected a team. What this revealed was that if people were lacking in skill-set, the company would have to hire more people to cater to all of the project requirements. Another thing self-selecting teams would reveal is whether employees actually believe in what is being built or worked on. If you have a project or product no one wants to be part of, could it be that the vision for it is simply not good enough, and this way we could eliminate projects that do not add enough value? It could be interesting to investigate this aspect a bit more.

Bevan shared with us the key outcomes of the experiment and from that, it was evident that individual and team culture will forever be changed!

Do you think your company will be up to it and would your manager really be able to give his or her people the freedom to choose? – it sounded like it really worked for Bevan and team, so it is definitely something I am interested in delving deeper into!

How human are your resources? – Angie Doyle & Biase de Gregorio

The workshop with Angie and Biase was really well prepared. It is always a pleasure attending sessions where you can see the effort put into what is presented. Even though this workshop was about HR and how to manage change, I will cut out the HR part and share with you the tools they used in their process of managing change. They used the strategic change canvas and added additional tools for each stage, which I found very useful. These were the tools used:

1. Vision – what is our vision for the change?Start with the vision, again we need the vision to understand why we are doing what we are doing, without the why we will not have the motivation to change.

The storytelling canvas is a good tool to remember all aspects of the vision as we often forget to think about the past. It is important to recognize the past before we move on.

2. Opposing forces – What is holding us back? What are the potential benefits?

It is always good to look at benefits and challenges regarding a change. Often the challenges will count more than the benefits, but by writing them down you have something concrete to work with.

3. People, process, and tools – Who and what is affected by the change?

Visual tools are always very powerful for understanding purposes. By taking the time to look into what is affected by the change, you minimize the risk of forgetting anything, especially if you turn this tool into a workshop where everyone who is impacted provides input.

4. Metrics – How will we know if what we are doing is making a difference?

The ‘SMART’ goal as illustrated above is always a good tool to use for measurement.

5. Actions – What actions will we demonstrate to support people through the change?

Based on all the other steps, it is time to create actions, so what can we do?

6. Next steps – What is our plan?

Take all your actions and plot them into the above diagram, maybe there are some quick wins, so try doing those first.

Generally, when you work with people and change, it is so important to include the people that will be affected by such change – make them part of it and as soon as you get their buy-in, they will be more open to the change.

Understanding Software Development – Don Grey

The closing keynote address at the gathering was from Don Grey about understanding software development. As an experienced developer, I really looked forward to this talk and to hear his view on this topic, but sadly I could not stay for the whole session. What I did get out of it though before I left was the mind map on why software development is so hard:

Just by looking at this you get overwhelmed!

And a good reminder to everyone as Don said: Estimation is the scientific word for a guess!

Final thoughts

All in all, the Regional Scrum Gathering in Durban was a huge success, and it is amazing to see how the community has grown and supports each other here in South Africa. I was very honored to be one of the speakers at the gathering and thoroughly enjoyed giving back to those who had attended. I look forward to next year’s gathering and hope to see you there!