Leading Scrum Teams to maturity

ByRon Eringa, 14 Mar 2018

How can an Agile Leader facilitate his teams to maturity?
In a series of 5 blog posts I am going to share some experiences.
In this blog I will introduce a maturity pattern that describes the evolution of a Scrum team.
This pattern is based on personal experiences and insights from Spiral Dynamics.
You can use this pattern as a benchmark for Leading Scrum teams towards more maturity.
As a followup I will present 4 blogs that each describe the transition between the described maturity levels.

If Scrum is done well…

If Scrum is done well, a Scrum team self-organizes, creates value on a regular basis and is highly efficient:

  • The Scrum Master serves the Scrum team and the Organization in understanding the theory, practices, rules and values. He helps team members to grow and coaches his peers towards success.
  • The Product Owner owns the Product, optimizes the value of the product and manages the Product Backlog. He helps team members to collaborate with stakeholders and creates a vision that is aligned to the stakeholders’ needs.
  • The Development Team owns the work and turns Product Backlog Items into valuable Increments. They are responsible for the quality of the product and have all the skills to organize their work.

If Scrum is done well, a lot of traditional responsibilities will move to the Scrum team.
For those new to Scrum it is often hard to believe that this transfer will ever take place. And to be honest, I don’t blame them!

Most organisations were not built on principles of self-organisation. They thrived in a time where management owned the plans and development teams owned only the execution.
But times are changing……The world has become so complex that responsibility needs to be owned by those doing the work. Only then can they be fast, flexible and creative.
And they can’t do that without the help of a Leader who shows them the way.

If Scrum is done well, you will need good Agile Leadership!

Leadership & Scrum

Many people understand Scrum nowadays, but fail in getting the best out of it.
This is often a result of:

  • Misinterpretations of the Scrum roles, their responsibilities and required skills
  • Organisational politics that prevent Leaders from focussing on what really matters
  • Having never seen a team transfer from ‘Following the rules’ to ‘Self-organising and shaping the rules’
  • Fear of loosing control and transfering autonomy

The idea of a self-organising team is fairly new the world of IT, but has proven most successful in sports and military situations. In the military there is a famous saying that states “There are no bad teams, only bad Leaders”.
And there is hope for IT organisations as well!
The best compliment a manager once made to one of my Scrum teams: “I don’t have to worry about you anymore. I just worry about the environment around it, so you can do what you have to.”
What if you could learn from what these teams did to accomplish this? What is the growth pattern that leads to such maturity?
And how can you as an Agile Leader use it to guide your teams to success?

A 5-Level Maturity Pattern

The key to leading successful Scrum teams is to focus on growing the maturity of the Scrum roles by providing them with an environment where they can flourish.
Many leaders focus on the processes and rules in Scrum, while it is the people and the roles that make the difference.

A team can only be as great as the people working in it!

I never met a mature Scrum Team that claimed its success to its ability to follow rules. The credits always go to the greatness of the people, the maturity of the roles and the values they share.
The most successful teams share a pattern, based on 4 important roles: the Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team member and Leader.
Although the Agile Leader is not an official role in Scrum, he plays a crucial part in the teams’ success in the organisation.

The pattern:

The Leader is responsible to set the boundary conditions for a Scrum team to increase their maturity.
I created a poster with detailed characteristics of each role on each level. You can download the poster here!

About the Maturity Pattern

The pattern is evolutionary

Evolution
In my Scrum trainings I teach how Scrum is done well: on level 5 of the Maturity Pattern.
Most people have a hard time figuring out how to do that because they just arrived at level 1 or 2. I have never seen anyone jump to the highest level after finishing a training. You will have to walk the path trough all the levels. It requires hard work, perseverance and good Leadership to achieve level 5!
As an Agile Leader it is your responsibility to guide the Scrum roles from one level to the other.

Hard Structures determine Mindset

Successful Scrum teams act as autonomous cells within the boundaries of the organisation. This level-5 mindset cannot be accomplished when the organisations’ hard structures (mandate, processes, rules, buildings, organisations, KPI’s, etc) are still at level 1.
The way people think & act is determined by their working conditions. How each Scrum role acts and thinks on every level is determined by the hard structure provided by the Leader.
As an Agile Leader it is your responsibility to shape the hard structure of your organisation is such a way that people can make a shift in their thinking system.

Agile Leaders go first!

Many Scrum teams get stuck at the first 3 levels of the Maturity Pattern. All teams I observed at level 4 and 5 had one thing in common: their Leader supported and guided them there. Leaders need to create an environment where people can work with commitment and focus without fear of making mistakes.
If a Leader is not able to guide his team to the next level, there will be friction, wrong expectations and dysfunctional Scrum.
As an Agile Leader it is your responsibility to set an example and lead the way.

The weakest Link

The success of an entire team is determined by its least mature role. A Scrum team will only show the expected results on each level when all the roles are at least on the same level of maturity.
As an Agile Leader it is your responsibility to facilitate the growth of each role in a team in order to make the whole team grow.

How to use the pattern?

The pattern gives insights in how the Scrum roles become mature.

Warning: The pattern should be used as guidance to help people determine their personal growth path. Do not use it as an incentive, since it will prevent people from actually walking the path!

So how can you use the pattern as guidance?
I will answer this on a more detailed level and give insights on how to move from one level to the other in the upcoming episodes of this blog:

  • Leading from level 1 to level 2: Coming soon!
  • Leading from level 2 to level 3: Coming soon!
  • Leading from level 3 to level 4: Coming soon!
  • Leading from level 4 to level 5: Coming soon!

Training

If you want to experience what it takes to be an Agile Leader, you can sign up for my Scrum.org PAL-E training.
PAL-E

More info

Read more about the evolution of the evolution of the Scrum roles:
Evolution of the Scrum Master
Evolution of the Product Owner
Evolution of the Development Team
Evolution of the Agile Manager

Or listen to the Leadership Podcast hosted by me and Laurens Bonnema:

Emin GurbuzPosted on5:28 pm - Mar 20, 2018

A great article and looking forward to read more… Thank you Ron 👍

SankarPosted on9:26 am - May 23, 2018

Nice article! I like the maturity levels and their definitions as well

Leave a Reply