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Trust: The most betrayed fellow in Scrum

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Trust. This five letter word in my observation is the most sidelined and neglected in many or most of the projects running in many organizations. In my recent observations of few projects, I can see the trust put up by the customer to its epitome in the beginning and which decreased or became nil as the project progressed. This is a thought provoking situation where in the foundations of customer-vendor relationship or two-parties should be on trust but the ground reality is the opposite.

I am not proposing any solutions instead trying to put forth my observations of such scenarios occurring in the agile projects. Many of the projects using scrum or any other framework as such, haste-up to produce the end results instead and forgetting about to build up the trust with the customer or within the team. Scrum guide says “When the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life and build trust for everyone.”

Thus trust is being achieved via commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect. But what is happening in the current situation is that neither the teams are committed to achieve what is desired nor do the teams have the courage to upfront tell the reality to the customer or share the real picture within the team. Eventually teams lose focus in delivering the business value to the customer and to the organization and this happen when they have not understood the agile values and principles well.

If all the five values are not imbibed and lived up by the team will ultimately lead to loss of trust, either by the customer or by the organization or by the teams on themselves. Below are my few of my observations for each value.

Commitment: As I observed individuals are not committed to the team, a scenarios could be that many individuals become part of the scrum team when the sprint starts and when the sprint is in progress few of them leave or some new individuals become part of the team. All this is done without considering the effect on productivity. Also this disrupts the team harmony, team bonding, and a sense of oneness and ultimately trust is lost among the team members.

Courage: Team members lack courage to flag the impediments to either the scrum master or discuss the issues within the team. They fear to open. Also team members commit to the customer and don’t have the courage to say “no”. Many a times their “Yes” is ambiguous. Product Owner operates in a command and control way and dictate terms on how he will work. Scrum Master does not have the courage to protect its team as he fears to ruin its relation or repo with the customer or product owner. All this leads to lack of trust within the scrum team.

Focus: Sprint goal is absent thus the team loses focus on what it is building. Sprint length is increased either by the team or product owner says to the team to increase the sprint length by another week so as to complete the remaining tasks. Rather than focusing on the team, the Scrum Master is more involved in solving the issues related to billing of the resources, performing parallel procurement activities, acting as a proxy SM to other team(s). Scrum Master is thus unavailable when required by the team and the team loses trust on him. Product Owner is not having any product backlog or he is not clear how and what to prioritize in the product backlog eventually the team loses focus on what or how to build and loses trust on the PO.

Openness: Team members often work in silos by not sharing or helping others proactively. Also if one of the team member share some idea or ideas of improving something then the other team member is not open to accept or adopt it. There are many barriers of egos within the team members. They are most of the times not comfortable of sharing their own perspective thus there is very less bonding among them. This all leads to lack of trust within the team.

Respect: Within the scrum team or team there is lack of respect. The development team believes that the scrum master is someone who is just to schedule the team meetings. He is considered at times an overburden, a non-technical person who does nothing. Team thinks that as he is not coding he is not doing anything. There is a lack of understanding by the team about the role of a scrum master. Apart from this the team members also do not respect each other as there are superiority or inferiority complexes arising out because they are known by their roles such as developers, testers, release leads etc.

If the focus of the scrum team is on building trust then both the customer and the organization will be benefited. Similarly if each scrum team member is honest in sticking to these basic scrum values then I believe both the customer and the organization will achieve the desired business value and satisfaction.

Posted on: May 31, 2018 07:04 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Great points, Vyom. And to create the environment of trust, there needs to be a culture shift where the team feels safe. That is a significant hurdle for organizations; to understand that mistakes will be made, but from that, learning will be had.

Good very accurate !!

Thanks for sharing Vyom!!

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