Making Your Scrum Team Coherent

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jun 23, 2022
Updated on
Mar 16, 2023
Table of Content

Daily Scrum, also known as the Daily Stand-Up, is a key component of any Scrum implementation. The Daily Stand-Up is a short, time-boxed meeting (no more than 15 minutes) during which the Scrum Team comes together to discuss what they did yesterday, what they are doing today, and what impediments (if any) are preventing them from making progress.

The purpose of the Daily Stand-Up is to allow the Scrum Team to synchronize their activities and ensure that everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing. This type of communication is critical for any team working on a complex project, but it is especially important for Scrum Teams, which are typically self-organizing and cross-functional.

While the Daily Stand-Up may seem like a simple concept, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your team’s Daily Scrums are effective. In this article, we will cover some tips for making the most of your Daily Scrums, the advantages of having a coherent team, and how GoRetro can help.

What Is Coherence?

In simple terms, coherence is a measure of how well the elements of a system are working together. The more coherent a system is, the more likely it is that its individual parts will work in harmony with one another. In the world of business, coherence is often seen as a key ingredient for success.

In Agile teams, coherence is often thought of as the ability of team members to work together effectively and efficiently. This can be a challenge for teams that are new to Agile or have grown too large. For a team to be cohesive, it must have a common goal, and all members must be able to work together to achieve that goal.

Let's say your team is estimating a story point of five. One team member says it will take two points to complete, while another believes it will only take one. If the team can't come to an agreement, the story point is likely to be estimated inaccurately. This can lead to problems down the road when the time comes to actually complete the task.

Why Is It Important to Ensure that Your Work Is Coherent?

There are a few reasons why it is vital to ensure that your work is coherent, and it's not just about making sure that everyone is on the same page. Here are some of the advantages and examples of having a coherent team:

It Enhances Team Efficiency

When everyone is aware of what the others are doing and works together towards a common goal, the team can move much more quickly. This is especially beneficial when time is limited or when there are deadlines to meet.

A great example is when a team is working on a project, and someone accidentally duplicates a task. If the team is not coherent, it may take days or even weeks to realize that the duplicate task exists before removing it. However, if the team is coherent, they can quickly identify and eliminate it, saving time and preventing frustration.

It Helps Everyone Make Better Decisions

A coherent team is able to make better decisions because everyone is aware of the goal and works together to achieve it. This means that there is less room for misunderstanding or confusion.

For example, let’s say that a Scrum Team is trying to decide which features to include in their product backlog. If the team is not cohesive, there will probably be a lot of disagreement and debate about which features are the most important.

However, if the team is cohesive, they can quickly come to a decision about which features to include because everyone is on the same page and working towards the common objective.

It Increases Productivity

A cohesive team is typically more productive because everyone knows what the others are doing and works together towards a common goal. This level of communication and collaboration can lead to better results and a higher level of satisfaction from team members.

For instance, imagine you are a web developer working on a website. If you are part of a cohesive team, then you would likely be aware of the design goals and constraints for the website. You would also be aware of what other developers are working on and  can therefore avoid duplicating efforts.

In this scenario, your productivity would likely be higher because you have a clear understanding of what is expected of you and how your work impacts others on the team.

It Improves Team Performance

Cohesive teams tend to produce better results because everyone is working together to achieve a common goal. This level of communication and collaboration can lead to a higher quality product or service.

For example, let’s say that your Scrum Team is working on a new software product. If the team is not cohesive, there will likely be a lot of bugs and errors in the final product. However, if the team is cohesive, they can work together to test and debug the software before it is released, which leads to a higher quality product.

How to Ensure Coherence Within Your Scrum Team?

Anyone who has been part of a Scrum Team can attest to the fact that it is a very cohesive unit. But what if your team is not as cohesive as you would like it to be? What if there are gaps in communication or cooperation? How do you ensure coherence within your scrum team?

The Scrum Team is a self-organizing, cross-functional team responsible for delivering a product increment during each sprint. The group should be composed of individuals with the skills and abilities necessary to complete the work required. However, coherence is not always guaranteed, especially when teams are first formed or when members are added or removed from the team.

1. Define the goal

The first step is to define the goal of the team. What is it that you want to achieve? What is your end goal? Once you have defined this, make sure that everyone on the team is aware of it and understands it. 

The best time to perform this is during the Sprint Planning Meeting, where (ideally) the entire team is present and can ask questions if they are unsure about anything. Also, "redefining" the goal regularly (e.g., at every retrospective) ensures that everyone is still on the same page and heading in the right direction.

2. Communicate often

It is important to communicate often with your team to ensure that everyone is aware of what the others are doing. The best way to do this is to have regular meetings, such as Daily Stand-ups, where everyone can give a quick update on their progress. 

Another great way to communicate is using a tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams, which offers instant messaging between team members. This can be very beneficial when someone needs to ask a quick question or make a brief announcement.

3. Develop a strong team identity

A strong team identity can go a long way in ensuring coherence within your team. When team members feel like they are part of a group and have a sense of belonging, they are more likely to collaborate and work together toward a common goal. 

One way to develop a strong team identity is to create a team logo or slogan that everyone can identify with. A team that is proud of its identity will be more likely to work together cohesively. Another way is to hold regular team-building activities, such as social events or outings, which can help foster a sense of camaraderie among team members.

4. Encourage collaboration

Encouraging collaboration is another great way to ensure coherence within your team. When team members feel like they can rely on each other and work together, it creates a stronger sense of unity. 

One way to encourage collaboration is to use a tool like Google Docs or Dropbox, which allows multiple users to edit and share documents. You can also hold regular meetings where team members can brainstorm ideas and work together on various tasks.

5. Promote a positive environment

Last but not least, it is important to foster a positive environment within your team. When team members feel like they are in a positive and supportive environment, they are more likely to work together and be cohesive. 

One way to promote a positive environment is to provide regular feedback, both positive and negative. However, it is important to deliver any negative feedback in a constructive way. Another way is to reward team members for their hard work and accomplishments. When team members feel that their efforts are being recognized, they will be more likely to work cohesively together.

6. Share positive emotions

Yes, it is important to share positive emotions within your team. When team members feel good about their work and the team, they are more likely to work together and be cohesive. 

One way to share positive emotions is to give compliments and encouragement regularly. Recognize and appreciate each team member’s efforts. When people feel good about themselves, they are more likely to be positive and productive. You can also have a team lunch or dinner after each product release to celebrate the team's accomplishments.

7. Establish rules of engagement

The Scrum Team should establish rules of engagement that define how they will work together. This includes things like how to communicate, how to handle conflict, and how to make decisions. 

The best way to establish rules of engagement is to have a team discussion and come to a consensus on what the rules should be. Once the rules are established, they should be written down and made available to all team members. 

8. Appoint a Scrum master

Not all Scrum teams have a Scrum master, but appointing one can help ensure coherence within the team. The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating team communication and ensuring that the team is following the rules of engagement. 

If you decide to appoint a Scrum Master, it is crucial to elect someone who is impartial and has the ability to mediate conflicts. The Scrum Master should also be someone who is respected by all team members.

9. Hold regular retrospectives

One of the best ways to ensure coherence within your team is to hold regular retrospectives. Retrospectives are meetings where the team comes together to discuss what went well and what could be improved. 

This is an excellent opportunity for team members to give feedback to each other and brainstorm ways to improve the team's process. Retrospectives should be held on a regular basis, such as after each sprint or release.

10. Have fun!

Last but not least, it is important to have fun! When team members enjoy working together, they are more likely to be cohesive. 

One way to have fun is to hold regular social events, such as team lunches or dinners. Another way is to plan fun activities for each Sprint or release. For example, you can hold a contest for the best code commit or the most creative bug fix.

Final Thoughts

Cohesion is essential for any team, but it is especially important for Scrum Teams. When a Scrum Team is cohesive, they are more likely to be effective and deliver high-quality products. 

There are many ways to ensure cohesion within your team, such as promoting a positive environment, sharing positive emotions, and holding regular retrospectives. The most important thing is to find what works for your team and stick with it.

It's also very important to hold regular retrospective meetings to ensure that the team is cohesive. GoRetro is a free powerful tool that can help you facilitate retrospectives and ensure that your team is cohesive.

With GoRetro, you can easily run virtual or remote retrospectives, track action items, and measure team satisfaction. The platform provides customizable, collaborative retro boards with many templates to choose from. GoRetro was designed with coherence in mind, so it's the perfect tool for any Scrum Team.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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