Be on time, stick to the rules, do SCRUM

I’ve always been a stick to the rules guy. If we agree on rules, we have to stick to them. I learned over time that it matters how you tell others that they should stick to the rules. That just for you to know, let’s get started with the real story.

I’m working as a developer in a company that decided to be agile some years ago. We do SCRUM, or at least we try. I know that we’re currently in the storming phase, but we face some issues that makes it really hard to believe that my coworkers really want to do SCRUM:

  1. they are late to the ceremonies
  2. they care more about progress than the basic SCRUM rules

A typical day.

The first ceremony, our daily, is at 10 o’clock in the morning. A pretty good time, if you’re asking me. If you’re an early bird, you’ve got some hours to work till the daily starts. If you don’t like to get into the day too early, you can join in some minutes before 10 o’clock and, after getting some coffee, join the meeting.

But it’s just not working. Our team consists of 8 developers, let’s see how it goes:

  • 10 o’clock, I’m in the meeting room, together with one fellow developer.
  • 10:01 now we’re four.
  • 10:02 we’re six, the scrummaster just joined.
  • 10:03 still six, we decide to start.
  • 10:05 I’m talking, number seven enters the room and interrupts me with a “I’m sorry”.
  • 10:07 Another developer is talking. Number eight enters the room and interrupts him with a “Oh, sorry, shit I’m the last one”.

What I tried so far.

I started the daily, even when being alone and I’ve been the doofus for the rest of the day. I guess they thought I’m totally nuts.

I told them (and as I mentioned earlier, I learned how to tell people things in a way so that they don’t feel offended) that we decided to do SCRUM and that we therefor decided to stick to some basic rules. I can see that they feel awkward, they try to grin it away and at the next day they’re late again. It’s even harder if they join late in groups. They just make fun of you.

I went to their places and told them that there’s a daily taking in 2 minutes. The most effective way, I think, but it only works if they’re at their desk and not if they went smoking or going to get a cup of coffee.

Be on time.

Why is it so hard for them stick to that simple rule? They’re reminded by our software, 15 minutes before the start of the daily. If they press the ‘snooze’ button, they’re again reminded 5 minutes before the daily starts. If they press the ‘snooze’ button again, they’re reminded again at the start of the daily, resulting in a lateness of 15 seconds if they lock their screens and walk to the meeting room, that’s just round the corner from the church.

Progress vs. rules.

I earlier mentioned that my team cares more about the progress than the rules. In our refinement meetings, we estimate stories that consist of a headline. Our product owner has no time to write them, so “let’s just be pragmatic and accept” those user stories and fill our sprint with them. We then puzzle over them and try to guess and remember what we said in the discussion concerning a particular story.

I know that writing a story takes time. I know, that writing a story is not the favorite hobby of a product owner. But we decided to do SCRUM, so we need user stories. They have to be written and, in my opinion, the team should start by writing user stories instead of developing if they aren’t written.

One story a day.

If I count the days that the project is running, more than 60 stories could’ve been written by now. I would not expect the product owner to spend the whole day with writing user stories. But I’d expect enough discipline to write one user story a day, instead of saying “I have no time”.

Lets tackle.

I love my team. I want to push it into the right direction. And I’m asking for your help.

What do you people think? I bet there’re many people out there facing those issues. Were you able to get around them? If yes, how did you do it? Were you experiencing the “I’m doing nothing wrong, I just stick to the rules, but I’m the mischief” phenomenon? I’d be very happy if we’d come up with some creative solutions and I’d definitely report back on the teams reactions. Thanks in advance.

Oh, and don’t get me wrong. It’s better than in most companies that I know. We do SCRUM, we care about, we have trainings, we are honest to our customers, …. I just know that it can be better and I want it to be better.

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