Scrum Rules: As a Team Member I Work With Only One Scrum Team

July 15, 2020
4 minute read

All Scrum Team Members must be committed 100% to the Sprint Goal of their team. If people are allocated to more than one team, then they are not able to be fully committed to the goal of any team. None of the Team Members, therefore, can be fully committed to the Sprint Goal.

Failure to commit to the Sprint Goal often results in failure to deliver value to the customer. In Scrum, the team completes Product Backlog Items, meets the Sprint Goal, and optimizes for value. The activity of the Scrum Team may not seem to be the most efficient use of individual Team Member time, but results in higher value delivered overall.

A Team Member who finds him or herself allocated to multiple Scrum Teams should start by immediately asking the Scrum Master to help with this impediment. Ideally, the Scrum Master can work with the organization to change the circumstances to allow the Team Member to be focused and committed to a single Scrum Team. This rule is often counterintuitive to traditional project management, which tends to be focused on resource utilization and the efficient allocation of resources. In the traditional project management case, team members may end up with many tasks completed, while no value is delivered. For example, one team member may have idle time during a Sprint, but should not use that time to work on something for another team. All Team Members maintain focus on the Sprint Goal, and are ready to help when the need arises. Any idle time may be used to learn, refactor, or otherwise improve the existing product or team. Managers in organizations often struggle with this rule. In order to allow them to accept it, the following facts can be helpful.

If a person is on two projects simultaneously, there is a 20% loss of productivity to context switching. For three projects, it grows to a 40% loss, for four projects, a 60% loss, five becomes a 75% loss, and it just keeps getting worse! (Weinberg, Gerald, M. (1992) Quality Software Management: Systems Thinking. Dorset House, p. 284) Sharing this reference with managers can be useful. However, it is also helpful to have a story to go along with the facts – consider examples from your own experience and share those at the same time.

Further information can be found here.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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