Is it a good idea to swap scrum masters and teams occassionally?
John McFadyen speaks about the value of occasionally swapping scrum masters with development teams and how that can give rise to innovation, improvement, and better outcomes.
Yes, it is a good idea.
Responding to Change or Loss
We don’t want to make those kinds of changes too frequently though.
Every time we make a change, we are bringing in a foreign element. Something out of the norm that will disrupt the team positively or negatively, depending on how things turn out.
As the team builds momentum and learns how to work with one another, a change can disrupt that momentum because the team has to learn about the new element and how to respond to that new element.
Understand that the team will need time to respond and adapt to the change, especially if it’s a core member such as a scrum master or product owner.
It will take them time to decipher what the benefits are of such a change rather than focusing on the loss of that key individual or individuals.
As humans, we are very loss focused. If we lose something, we mourn that loss.
If it’s fairly trivial, like dropping a 50p coin down the train, we aren’t deeply affected by the loss and can take that in our stride. But when it comes to something deeper, more connected to us, we often need a little time to mourn the loss and learn how to grow and evolve without the thing that we lost.
Understand that there is going to be an emotional response initially and that it will take a moment or two for the team to realise that it isn’t all bad. To realise that there may be benefits to the loss or change that they had not taken into consideration before.
So, we don’t want to make changes too frequent where the team lose sight of the long term view and goal whilst struggling to deal with disruptive change within the team environment.
Offering opportunities for team members to grow and thrive is a great idea.
It may well be that a developer will be better served in their career progression by working with a more advanced team and as such, positive change signals a great opportunity to both the team as well as the individual.
It may be that a scrum master is ready for the next evolution in their career and working with a more advanced team will help them grow and evolve significantly faster in a new environment.
In these circumstances, change is especially positive and helps in both the short and medium term.
Sometimes, people simply move on to new opportunities at new firms.
That means you need to find replacements and bring them into your environment. It’s a great opportunity for them to join a high-performing team and really bring their skills and talent to the role.
Sometimes, that change is a catalyst for great things in the team and an opportunity for people to learn from the incoming developer, product owner or scrum master.
In all of these circumstances, you want to make sure that the team are well informed.
Don’t hide the change and don’t make sudden changes, if possible, without first informing the team of what is happening and why it matters.
If they know what is coming down the pipeline and fully understand both the benefits as well as the new opportunities presented by change, they are more likely to adopt that change and respond well to it.
The magic of time
It takes time to become great at your job. It takes time to gel as a team.
Remember that after the disruption or change, you need to give the team time to adapt and respond to their new circumstances. Time to learn how to best work with one another and to figure out how to collaborate effectively.
Don’t make a habit of swapping out scrum masters and development team members too frequently.
Allow them time to adapt to change and build momentum as a team moving forward.
If we go around the loop of change too often, you simply won’t have time to become great at what you do, and neither will your team.
The magic of time enables teams to develop deep skills and integrate perfectly as a team.
Over time, a team can begin to stagnate.
They can develop group think and resemble a group of people that work together rather than an effective team who are constantly improving.
They can lose the desire to find great answers to compelling questions and they can lose motivation in pursuing great work that truly delights customers.
So, whilst there is a degree of magic that comes with time, it can also be a double-edged sword.
We want positive changes in the team that empower the team to inspect, learn and adapt.
Change that empowers the team to constantly pursue the best ideas and the most effective ways of getting that work done.
So, balance the value of a team working interdependently over periods of time with the need to shake things up a bit from time to time.
New people with new skills and deep experience can really impact team dynamics positively. As they come in and share how they work, the team can learn from their experience and recommendations, and positively adopt new process changes and ways of working to improve.
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