How to Get a Scrum Team to Agree on a Direction

By Zach Chapman - September 5, 2019

How to Get a Scrum Team to Agree on a Direction
September 5, 2019 By Zach Chapman

How to Get a Scrum Team to Agree on a Direction

It can be a difficult task to get a Scrum team to agree on their direction. The direction is usually set by leadership within an organization. The expectation is for everyone to follow that direction, but this is where a lot of disconnects can take place. If employees or, in this case, Scrum teams are not able to see how their current projects fit in with the direction of their organization, the end result will be a lack of engagement. Make sure the Scrum team is on-board with the direction they are heading, and make sure they understand how it aligns with the goals of their company.

Let the Team Set Their Norms

how to get a scrum team to agree on a direction

If you want the Scrum team to agree on the direction, start by following one of the principles of Agile and Scrum: allow them to self-organize. Give them the power to figure out how they want to work. The direction they are heading in will be constant, but the manner in which they get there is up to the Scrum team. By allowing the team to set their own goals and work towards clear outcomes with fewer restrictions, you’ll begin to see great benefits. These include a greater sense of team buy-in and shared ownership, a more innovative and creative environment, and increased motivation for individual team members.

The Product Owner and Scrum Master need to work with the Development Team to figure out team norms and how they will function. When will the daily stand-ups take place? How does the team want to handle retrospectives and demos? Allow the team to set norms to increase engagement and ensure they are working towards a common goal, but let them do it on their own terms and in their own way.

Give Everyone a Voice

Every member of the Scrum team should have a voice. Everyone should feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions about things they don't understand. For instance, if there is confusion about why a certain user story in the backlog is taking priority over others, someone should speak up.

If the Scrum team is going to agree on the direction and work towards a unified goal, they need to all have a voice. By talking through things and having an open line of communication to a Scrum Master and Product Owner, they can better comprehend the direction and try to achieve it as best they can.

Let Them Know They're Valued

Do the Scrum team members understand how they each add value to the organization? Do they know how the user story they are focusing on fits into the bigger picture of the project? The Product Owner and Scrum Master are responsible for letting everyone on the team know they are adding immense value, even with actions as simple as asking clarifying questions or voicing support for fellow team members.

Continue to Evolve

Evolution is important for every Scrum team. Evolution involves constantly thinking about the direction of the team and how they can continue to create excellent products down the line. Team norms, Sprint performance, and even organizational structure will all change over time. Allow the team to regularly refine their vision of the project.

Keeping a Scrum team in agreement on direction boils down to engagement. You want every member of the Scrum team to reach a state of peak engagement, having a genuine interest in their work, and understanding how their actions align with the organization's direction. If successful, the results will be a more effective and efficient output from the entire Scrum team.

In summary, to get your team to agree on a direction:

  1. Give them the freedom to self-organize, set their own goals and decide how they want to handle Scrum events.

  2. Make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up and asking questions.

  3. Make sure team members know they’re valued.

  4. Continually refine your vision of the project and adjust norms (and even organizational structure) over time.