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Jun 16, 2022

How Scrum Increases Collaborative Efforts In Your Organization (And Why That Makes Your Life Easier)

Collaboration is key to any organization’s success. In this article, we invite you to look at the benefits of collaboration in the workplace and the role that Scrum plays in this process. No matter how many members of the team work together, there is always some communication taking place between different departments and individuals within the organization. So, that brings us to the question: why does that level of communication need to be increased?

Working in an Agile office & how to help your employees feel more motivated at work

The more people in an organization start interacting with each other, the more efficient and innovative processes become, as adaptability increases, and the overall environment improves. But how do you ensure that there is plenty of interaction taking place between people from different departments? The easiest decision that can help you a lot in achieving this goal is creating a hybrid working space, also called an Agile office. The point of such a workspace is to trigger more collaborative relationships between colleagues by transcending physical and social barriers. The reason that Agile offices are also called hybrid offices is because they allow employees to combine remote work with office work. This approach increases the flexibility of workers, improving their well-being and work-life balance. If we recall the Agile methodology, it always highlights that it is important to make a company’s employees happy to keep them motivated and dedicated. People spend a lot of time at work, which is why it is valuable to create an environment which facilitates face-to-face work, whether it be in-person or remotely. Such an environment allows people to express empathy and develop emotional connections with their colleagues.

There is a scientific basis to the previously mentioned facts. In 2014, a Stanford study found that even the smallest perception of collectivism when working on a task can boost the performance of the company. The research participants were told to work collectively, and the results showed that the group continued to work at their task 64% longer than their peers, who worked individually. But the results were even more exciting: people who worked in a team showed higher engagement rates, lower fatigue, and higher success rates. These outcomes remained for several weeks after the experiment. Researchers concluded that feeling like you're part of a team motivates you to take on more challenges.

Scrum team: its roles and principles

Scrum is a framework which has the potential to simplify the life of professionals in their workspace. The very first change Scrum brings to the mindset of a team is with the introduction of equality. This framework doesn’t imply any hierarchy, but instead focuses on the diversity of roles and skills within a team, as well as on collaborative and goal-oriented behavior. One of the basics of Scrum is daily stand-ups. A stand-up is a 15-minute-long meeting with a whole team to check up on their progress, address any questions, or discuss any impediments appearing in the working process. The idea of a stand-up is to make sure that individuals from different disciplines align to reach mutually agreed upon goals as a collaborative effort. On top of that, people get insights into the priorities in different disciplines or departments and consider them when planning some work or dividing the responsibilities to be aligned with a whole company and its shared objectives.

On the note of shared objectives, these are the goals that people support and are willing to undertake in order to help progress the product defined by the Product Owner. The Product Owner cannot simply assign tasks to team members, as they need to take other colleagues’ thoughts into consideration first. A Scrum team consists of three accountabilities, which are the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Developers. That’s why when they're planning the shared objectives, Product Owners present the goals to stakeholders, after which they determine the work that needs to be done for those objectives. Later, the defined aims are fragmented into achievable, smaller pieces and divided between sprints (two week-long periods) during which the tasks should be completed. Subsequently, the shared goals are achieved by gradually finishing all the elements required to release a final product.

Another nuance that comes to mind is how to measure these shared goals. To be able to evaluate the progress in the end, you need to implement the criteria in the objectives itself and plan them SMART. The abbreviation SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By including all these specifications in a goal statement, you will be able to clearly share the intentions thereof without deviating from the main course of action on your way to realizing the objectives.

Transparency in the working process & why you should aim to achieve it

One of the most important elements to maintain within a Scrum team is transparency. It is one of the three main pillars of Scrum. Transparency is a vital element of the Scrum framework, because it allows us to see everything that is being done in each sprint, an overview of the overall progress made towards the shared goals, which in turn allows us to achieve better communication and trust within a company. Employees start working more closely, seeking and gladly offering feedback to each other. The feedback exchange can happen naturally during the stand-ups, through personal communication, or in organized sessions.

The Scrum framework also offers some useful tools, such as sprint review meetings and sprint retrospectives. The difference between these two events is that a sprint review is organized to reflect on what has been done during a sprint, while the retrospective is more focused on the inspection of people, their interactions, and general processes. So, as we can see, transparency tends to bring about feedback, which is an integral part in helping colleagues learn from one another and improve together.

Scrum allows for a structured approach to a project, ensuring fast and high quality delivery.

Diversity & the team accountability mindset

The final highlight of the Scrum approach is the presence of multidisciplinary squads. We have slightly touched upon this topic before, but do you know why it has drawn so much attention? Many of us have grown accustomed to a traditional approach of building teams by discipline, but we encourage you to try and shift away from that approach. If each team has people from various backgrounds and experiences – individuals who have different roles and hold different positions within a company – they can collaborate, resulting in a more successful workforce.

When people find themselves collaborating with individuals from different departments, explaining their point of view on how a problem should best be solved, these discussions help to bring understanding into the team. As such, if there is a mutual understanding, then mutual respect will follow suit.

Finally, let's return to the previously mentioned notion of shared objectives. As a follow-up comes the notion of shared responsibility -- team accountability for progress. Since the whole team evaluated their capacity during the planning of the objectives, defined the tasks they are ready to finish, and agreed on everything, then the whole team is responsible for achieving the agreed upon results. The idea of reconsidering the approach to work and perceiving the whole team as a responsible unit comes after the individual responsibility shows its disadvantages. Individual responsibility makes it easy to have somebody accountable, but quite often it is hard to see if work done by one individual is valuable. As a result, if the company prefers individual responsibility, it might create silos in the group and lead to local optimization, where some of the work is valuable, and some appears to be done unnecessarily. Instead, Scrum insists that teamwork makes employees work towards a common goal, and all their work has logic behind it, and it impacts the shared objectives. Teamwork brings transparency, actuality, and direction for the individuals in the teams.

Collaboration: how is it explained and organized in Scrum?

Are you still unsure whether or not Scrum is the right framework for turning colleagues into team players? Scrum encourages a structured approach to each project, ensuring fast and high-quality delivery. This framework initiates communication transparency, collective accountability, and continuous progress. Scrum also acts as the foundation and pillar of the overall techniques which help guide a company to success.

One of the foundations of Scrum which helps lead a company in this direction is collaboration. Its core dimensions are awareness, articulation, and appropriation. Awareness means that the people you work with need to know what others are doing. Articulation means that the collaborating personality divides the work into units. Units need to be split between team members and reintegrated after the work is complete. Appropriation is the adaptation of technology to a particular situation. This technology can be used in a very different way than the developers expected. Scrum work is about gathering with your teammates to discuss the deliverables and progress. The technique teaches you to support each other. For example, in case one team member does not work as fast as others, the other teammates can come to help finish the task. Furthermore, Scrum nurtures visualization in a workspace: colorful stickers, Kanban boards, and other things which help an individual to have a better understanding of the team capacity, the deliverables, and roles. Everything that is described here is a science worth mastering.

If all these points are properly implemented in the work of the Scrum team, you will find that the number of change requests is minimized, risk is reduced, and efficiency is improved. Socializing within an organization brings continuous improvement to the team's voice.

The topics mentioned in this article may sound like a whole new science, but they are also meant to serve as guidance for a successful future for your company in this fast-changing world. That's why Gladwell Academy provides training and support coaching to help you understand what Scrum is and implement it in your organization. Feel free to explore Scrum even more and check out our upcoming trainings at Gladwell Academy down below.

Written by Gladwell Academy, but most of our content is created by trainers and partnering experts!