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January 4, 2012 / KaTe

A tale of a support team – When Scrum leads to Kanban – Episode 1 – the Beginning.

Long long time ago, in a company far, far away from here (okay, actually pretty close …) there has been a group of great warriors who battled an evil BOSS.

Translation for the IT people: There was a group supporting an old and ugly system called BOSS. 😉
Let me describe my first encounter with this group. I was asked by their manager to take over – he was unable to handle being a manager for two teams and a Scrum Master for one. So I did. I came into one of their meetings, sat in the corner and started observing. After an hour it came to me, that what I was observing was the Daily Scrum. An hour of excruciatingly boring hanging on a conference phone, with one person speaking (later I found out that he was referred to as Product Owner), others had near death experience. Nobody else spoke – only the phone with a funny accent and the PO.
After some investigation I found that the accent belonged to a representative of one of the northern nationalities, who trained a new PO for this project. Two others accompanied them, and because the team has been separated, they needed time to talk. So it took them up to 1,5 hours to conduct the Daily Scrum *sigh* …

It took me a weeek (= a sprint) to investigate what’s going on. This is the initial state of the team and the project:
Technology: as complex as it can be. Every possible platform, every possible language.
Documentation: None. Some use cases to investigate kept in a horrible tool, so analysis for a 10 minute task sometimes took hours.
Automation: Non-existent. No time, beacuse of the current work.
Tools: every possible. No consistency.
Bug Queue: >100 elements
Feature Queue – impossible to estimate – changed every few minutes
Time to speed* : 6 – 9 months

Team size: 8 + PO + Manager (Oh and a PO in training)

Team Structure:

      PO that believed that this project cannot be save


      A manager that openly favored his second team


      4 Experienced Developers:

        A Funny, but annoying guy that barely contributed (Let’s call him M)


        A Frustrated Veteran that had been promised to change the team month after month for over a year (Let’s call him X) and was more and more depressed


        A Quick-tempered experienced guy that wanted to change the team, and was ready to leave the company of it was not possible (He’ll be F)


        The PO (Yes, he was developing … )

4 Newbies:

        2 x ~3 months experience (Miss E and Don Art)


      2 x brand new (<2 weeks) (Let’s call them A & B)

* time that a team member needed to be able to perform day to day tasks from the project

What would you do in this situation?

Oh, and to complicate this situation even further, out of the four experienced people each one had completely different and exclusive knowledge of system components. On top of this, two of them (the PO and M) were leaving the company within two months, and other two experienced (F & X) had to leave the team soon, or they would quit the company too.

Comment with your ideas. I will tell you what we did soon!


Other parts: [part 2] [part 3]


Leave a Comment
  1. Apatsch / Jan 4 2012 7:07 pm

    How about cleaning up the dailies issue first? It would certainly let the people take a breath and learn the meaning of stand-up.

  2. vanscrumpm / Dec 10 2012 11:17 pm

    I just started with a company in a similar situation.. I would love to know what happened next.

    • KaTe / Dec 11 2012 9:11 am

      I will do my best to post it today in the evening 🙂

  3. jesse / Aug 26 2013 8:57 pm

    Why doesn’t this link to episode two… 😦

    • KaTe / Aug 27 2013 9:41 am

      Fixed – thanks for pointing it out 🙂


  1. A tale of a support team – when Scrum leads to Kanban – Episode 3 – The Kanban | Control Your Chaos
  2. A tale of a support team – when Scrum leads to Kanban – Episode 2 – Mission Impossible | Control Your Chaos

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