Thursday, December 22, 2016

AGD Practice - The Silent Count

Daily Stand-ups have a frequent problem: the talkative coach (or Scrum Master).  There's nothing wrong with their speaking during the meeting, but if we want the team to take ownership of the work, the developers need to do most of the talking.

Coaches usually mean well, but they often come from a management background in an organization where work is assigned to developers and answers mainly come from management.  This creates a pattern of developers expecting problems to be solved by management.  We want to create a new pattern, where they solve most of the problems on their own.

Coaches need to coach developers through these pattern changes.  This requires emboldening them and sometimes creating a void that they must fill themselves.

A good practice for coaches is to ask questions - even questions they might know the answer to - and to wait for the answer.  The practice is to silently count to 10 seconds after you ask the question.  Don't be surprised if it takes 6-7 seconds before someone speaks up...long silences can be uncomfortable for a developer who knows the answer, but is a bit shy in speaking up.  If you get to 10 seconds and no one has spoken up, ask a bridge question; a question that is easier to answer and gets you halfway there.


Coach: "Are we on track to hit our sprint goal this week?"

Silent count to 10.

Coach: "OK, are there any things that you might be worried about?"

After a few seconds a developer speaks up: "I'm not sure I'm creating the right animations for the melee".

Another developer speaks up: "I can sit with you after the meeting and go over what we need".


Creating a pattern of solving problems among developers, without direct management supervision will give you one of the greatest benefits of self-organization.  Having eight people solving 90% of the problems is a lot more efficient and effective than you being the bottleneck.

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