How to Get Better Results from Scrum

agile teams continuous improvement discovery incremental delivery
Team discussion at a table with papers

By Julie Springer

October 26, 2022

If your teams have been using Scrum for some time, it can start to become monotonous and feel like being on a hamster wheel. You just keep going through the same motions over and over and don't feel like you are getting anywhere new. Every sprint, you have the same events, the same conversations and your results are getting stagnant.

It's not a problem with Scrum. It's a problem with the environment that Scrum is happening within. To keep Scrum from feeling like the movie “Groundhog Day,” you need to create a more complete system by investing in discovery and continuous improvement.

Invest in Discovery

When teams focus too much on delivery, they can lose sight of the why for the work and get the sense of working in a “feature factory.” There is always more to deliver, but are you delivering the right things? Are you providing as much value as possible for your customers?

Invest as much time in discovery as you invest in delivery, so that you know you are working on the right things and have a clear vision for how your work helps customers or achieves meaningful business goals. Involve team members in discovery by:

  • Inviting them to discovery sessions and engaging them in identifying solution options.
  • Including them in customer and stakeholder interactions (such as interviews, research, beta tests, etc.) so that they see the challenges and opportunities first-hand.
  • Helping them to develop a relationship with the people they are building things for.

Invest in Continuous Improvement

In addition to spending time on discovery, team members need time for learning, growth and continuous improvement. This not only benefits individuals and increases their job satisfaction, but helps to improve team performance. You can do this through:

  1. Meaningful Team Retrospectives
    • Make your retrospectives collaborative and engaging. Deep-dive on issues that are getting in your team's way. Include process improvement work within each sprint.
  2. Professional Development
    • Create a team skill wall and identify areas where people want to grow. Make a plan and set aside time for cross-training, taking courses and practicing new skills.
  3. Innovation and Creative Pursuits
    • Carve out regular time for things like hackathons, innovation tournaments, and time for individuals to dig into a problem they are interested in solving.

Scrum shouldn't be a grind. As a leader, you have a responsibility to create a healthy and dynamic environment for your teams to thrive. Try these ideas to support creativity, growth and to make sure the work has purpose - not just "deliver, deliver, deliver."

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