013 - Yola & Co failed to swarm (1000x456)

Seriously…sometimes I’m more amazed than normally. And this time it was not only me who was caught by this surprise of the team….

Let me explain a bit. I’ve been coaching this team for a while now and there is one thing that just don’t seem to land with them…the concept of swarming, doing things together instead of doing them as individuals. Finishing one Product Backlog Item (PBI) after another as a team. However, paired programming for them is sitting together for roughly an hour or so to explain some code and then continue doing your ‘own‘ work. WIP-limit of two for them means that you can have at least four stories in progress, right?

Then it happened during a refinement session. The team had finished a spike in the beginning of the Sprint and the Product Owner and I were eager to get the results mainly because we (the Scrum team) needed the information to refine five other stories for the coming sprints. So when the team explained that Mike knew the outcome of the spike but had a day off, I laughed my pants off thinking they were pulling my leg. Soon I realised that they were deadly serious on this and I started laughing even more. And by the look on their faces I could tell I caught them with their pants down…

Now I have to say, I love this team. They did come a long way from a management perspective. From the worst kid in school, to an ‘Hey, this team is doing a pretty great job’ and still we have a lot to learn. So when I saw the expression on their face I started to explain why we used the x-team-hours time box for the spike. That the whole team supposed to work on the spike for X hours. That if the team had swarmed, the knowledge would have been shared and the knowledge risk would have been mitigated. The latter being most valuable for the Product Owner. Fortunately the team learned from this mistake and see the importance of swarming on the PBI’s. So when in this situation, try to get the knowledge on paired programming, or even mob programming and find out what the benefits can be for you and your team.