The art of SCRUMmunication

posted in: Agile, Soft Skills | 0

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A significant number of IT-projects fails to have the desired effect. Do we blame this on the work ethic of our employees? Trainers often find out that communication is the cause of failing IT-projects.

Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups

I think communication fails when there is a difference in perspective. IT-projects spiral downwards when we assume, but forget to verify these assumptions with our co-workers. As the famous Hollywood-saying goes: ‘Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups’.

In this agile-environment we currently work in these assumptions cause even more ‘fuck-ups’ then before.

Open communication

To further explain the importance of open communication we’ll explore the agile-chain together.

Conventional IT-projects usually kick off with a certain outcome in mind – but an agile-project is different. When one starts an agile-project they have no idea what the outcome might be. An agile-approach requires flexibility, because requirements can change in the course of a project. Open and constant communication are essential: one assumption and the whole project goes to waste.

We’ll use the scrum-approach as our example. A scrum-project always begins with the creation of a ‘user story’. This ‘user story’ is put together by the product owner and the customer. To create a ‘user story’ the product owner has to have excellent interrogation techniques. It’s the product owners job to discover what the exact requirements for the project are. After this meeting the product owner presents the user story to his team. To do this accordingly, it’s important that the product owner has excellent presentation skills.

Time to develop

After this presentation it’s time for the developers to get started. They decide how much capacity is needed to develop. These decisions are best made through excellent communication between team-members.

The team meets daily in ‘stand-ups’ during the sprints. In these ‘stand-ups’ the importance of having presentation skills is once again proven: how do you hand out to-the-point information to your team? What’s the best way to give each other feedback? The scrum-master – the team-leader – is assisting the team as a coach rather than a classic ‘boss’. The scrum-master has to be a good listener, he has to ask the right questions, give excellent feedback and give good advice to his fellow team-members.

SCRUMmunication

The fate of a scrumproject is decided by the communication between all team-members. It’s a necessity to make sure everyone in the team has the same vision. It’s key to ask the right questions, transfer verified information and give honest feedback.

Communicative skills have never been more important for the IT-crowd then they currently are. Make sure you don’t get behind and make sure your communication skills are up to date.

What happens next?

There are more than enough courses in agile and scrum available. It’s harder to find specific courses in communication for agile-workers. These skills are very important – in the ideal scenario mastering communicative skills would be part of any agile- and scrum-training. But for now, it’s best to combine an agile-course with training in communication.

That will decrease the number of ‘fuck-ups’ significantly.

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