Scrum Rules: As a Team Member I Am Willing to Learn Any Skill to Help my Team

July 27, 2020
3 minute read

Scrum Team Members, excluding the Scrum Master and Product Owner, must be completely open-minded to learning new skills. Skills can be technical, business, personal, tools-based, etc. A Team Member is sensitive to the needs of the Scrum Team and will learn skills by multiple means as the needs of the team evolve.

A Scrum Team where people are not willing to learn new skills will suffer from bottlenecks, time pressure, quality problems, and often will become generally demoralized as the willingness of some people on the team turns into apathy and cynicism when others refuse to learn. In a team where everyone is willing to learn new skills, there will be a consistent raising of capacity and the team will be able to do more and more work more effectively. This attitude is a key requirement for the formation of high performance teams.

Learning new skills is an aspect of the people in a team working towards the Sprint Goal. Doing this effectively means having the resources available for learning including:

  1. Time from subject matter experts to answer questions
  2. Time within the team for cross-training
  3. Access to online information and tools
  4. Support from the organization for training
  5. Personal space/safety to take on work that a person may not execute perfectly or in a timely manner.

As well as the resources, the team members also will need encouragement from the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and stakeholders of the team. A general culture of learning and continuous improvement in an organization helps with this. Of course, if your organization does not have this culture, then creating it can be extremely challenging!

And, like anything else that involves humans, there is the simple fact that no one can force anyone else to be willing to learn. Therefore, if you are personally unwilling to learn certain skills, then taking some time for self-reflection may be appropriate, even if only to decide that you don’t wish to work in an environment where this is asked of you. However, self-reflection may also help you to discover unexpected barriers to learning that others on your team may be able to help with.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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