New to Scrum? 11 baby steps for implementing Scrum and creating teams

It’s been almost five years that I have been trying to be Agile. There were a few situations that were shocking compared to the traditional model followed at the start of my career in 2005, and a few moments that can never be forgotten.

Recently I volunteered to work for an Agile event, and people there asked me, “What are the basic requirements for implementing Scrum?” Instead just giving an abrupt answer, I jotted down a few points for beginners. This is how I started practicing Scrum with new teams. Of course I modified these steps after inspecting situations over the years, and I continue to do so even now, depending on team size, culture, location, etc. It is not necessary to perform these steps in a particular order; the gist is to start from somewhere.

Educate the team that Agile is a blend of mind-set and attitude. Scrum is the way to change the existing mind-sets and attitudes.

Educate the team about the importance of the Agile Manifesto’s values and principles. I have seen tremendous growth in team attitude when the members understand these values and principles. Whenever I’m stuck, I always refer to these principles to find the needed solutions.

Timebox the work and start implementing short and effective sprint cycles again and again (educate the team about the iterative and incremental model) in order to engage every stakeholder. Shorter durations will help the customer/client see what’s happening and where their money is being involved.

Teach basic knowledge about Scrum.

Implement basic ceremonies religiously, especially daily stand-up meetings.

Educate the team about what it really means to be self-organized and self-directing. Slowly empower them to make decisions.

Establish interaction as a key method of working. We need to help our customers become involved more often (depending on the sprint cycle) and be available to answer team questions. Arrange as many meetings with the team and customer/product owner as is desirable; the more they communicate with each other, the less the possibility of risk.

Experiment with different tools and techniques, games, ideas, etc., to keep the tempo of team high. It is the team that is going to build the product, so the more motivated they are, the better the result/value they’ll give the organization.

Teach all three roles: product owner, ScrumMaster, and team. Help your team understand the three pillars of Scrum: inspect, adapt, and transparency. Though every day provides an opportunity for inspection and adaption for the team, I believe that retrospective meetings are the actual ground where the team can generate insights and brainstorm on the action items required in the future sprints. This is time the team should spend sincerely, and the ScrumMaster can help make sure that retrospective meetings are fruitful.

Adhere to the core values of Scrum and help the team do so as well. I have explicitly mentioned those core values in my earlier article “Agile in Daily Life.”

View the Scrum Alliance “Scrum in 30 Seconds” poster and accompanying video, which are worth showing to any new organization and team who want to implement Scrum.

These are 11 baby steps that a Scrum Master can take to build a new Scrum team and implement Scrum within that team. It is easy to jot down these steps, but it is really difficult to consistently implement them and apply the tools and techniques of this simple framework. Teams will require at least two to three sprints or more to begin to understand the basic framework.

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