We had a two-day SCRUM training session at Suyati as part of our tech workshop. Our certified scrum business analyst Praveen was in charge of the training. As the Training invitation has attracted large number of Suyatians, Praveen had to cut down the training sessions to different batches. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the first batch.
Even though I am working in a SCRUM project currently, being a developer, I had little knowledge about SCRUM. I was not quite sure about the advantages of SCRUM compared to other project development methodologies. Also I wasn’t aware about the core aspects of SCRUM. So I was eager to attend the session.
The session kicked off with an introduction to the SCRUM. Praveen provided a bit of history and “what is what” explanations. The “Chicken and the Pig” interpretation of SCRUM methodology was quite interesting for us.
Praveen had promised us an interesting task for the next session. We were split into teams of 6 members, and given the task of making paper planes.
Each team can commit the number of paper planes that they are going to make and each plane has to be made based on the requirements from the trainer. The criteria for plane development were little tricky, there should be dedicated resources in the team for cutting the paper and testing the plane, other resources can make the plane, but only one resource is allowed to make a single fold to the paper at a time! Also the foremost portion of the plan needs to be bent backwards.
And the acceptance criteria for paper plane? The tester should be able to fly the plane from one corner of the training room to the other. (As usual, us testers get the toughest task!)
The shocking part was the time span for the task! 5 minutes..!! This includes one minute for planning and 3 minutes for development and testing and last one minute for inspection and evaluation.
And Praveen gave us an evaluation sheet to fill up the number of planes committed and the number of planes which met the acceptance criteria for each round (which corresponds to Sprint here!)
We were supposed to give the number of planes before the development starts. And our team made a commitment of 3 planes.
The countdown started and members from our team gathered together for our one minute planning. We had one person in our team who knew how to make a paper plane. As I did not know how to make it, I took the responsibility of testing the planes. Well, I was not the only one who is unaware about plane making, one fellow developer volunteered to take the responsibility of cutting papers. Team was ready and being a tester I was impatiently waiting for the first plane. And within seconds I had the first plane in my hand. I started rushing to the testing location with the plane and guess what? It fell down half way!
And the other one, I pushed it forward with all my energy, again it fell down miserably.
Within no time we heard Praveen shouting “Time up..!”
So the Round one evaluation is as follows:
Number of committed planes: 3
Number of successful planes: 0.
That’s a big zero! Being a tester, my point during the inspection and evaluation discussion was that the planes were not properly built, they were thick and were not having sharp edges. So team decided to change the way they fold the plane to make it more “flyable”! Also our expert “Plane maker” took a quick session on folding techniques to improve the development time.
Round 2 wasn’t a big change! We promised 2 and made one!
Round 3 had a twist; Praveen changed the rules of the task by deciding the number of planes we need to deliver. But he gave us the liberty to disobey the other task allocation rules.
Within the same timespan we were ordered to deliver 25 planes! Obliviously we were not ready to accept the task! Because it totally impractical! The client is having unrealistic expectations! We started arguing with all valid reasons to cut down the number of deliverables. However, it was not easy to convince the client. Finally, we made an agreement to accept the task to make 7 deliverables with two additional resources in each team.
So what happened in Round 3? We were able to make 8 planes and out of 8 planes, 5 met the acceptance criteria!
The main points rose in the inspection and evaluation discussion was the new resources that joined the team were not really “synced” with the team. Also we were all little hesitant to work under pressure.
Final round. No twists! Same rules. We promised 5 and delivered 7..!! Did you see that??
At the end of the task I learnt how to make a paper plane and also some fundamental lessons of SCRUM!!
The training continued with advanced topics like SCRUM roles, Effort estimation, Backlog refinement, scrum of scrums..etc.
We all had a better understanding about SCRUM when we left the training room.
Yes! SCRUM isn’t just a project development methodology. It is more of a psychological approach to efficient teamwork! Go ahead, and try it at your workplace….
We developers love taking responsibilities (Well, nobody likes to follow orders! It’s rude). SCRUM allows team members to take responsibilities. Having an equal role in a project is far better than having a hierarchy. This is a motivating factor!
It’s always good to have someone who fights for the team; SCRUM Master is such a role.
Changing a team suddenly makes us feel like deported to some other planet. SCRUM believes in having consistent teams.
SCRUM is also about understanding the vulnerabilities of humans. It’s about giving freedom not pressure! Because it’s proven that stress destroys productivity.
Communication is the key to successful project management. SCRUM stresses this fact by ensuring efficient communication between the team members and product owners by means of “Stand up meetings” and “Sprint planning meetings”.
SCRUM not only improves the software development process, it also motivates your team members. I always wondered why I feel more motivated and energized working in my current project when compared to my earlier internal projects. The SCRUM training uncovered the mystery; it’s just that being part of a SCRUM project is about being more productive..!
Oh! I forgot to mention, I had one more take away point from the session. Other than the SCRUM fundamentals, I know how to make a paper plane now. Especially one that actually flies..!!