Situations where team members lack visibility on what is on the backlog and the product owner comes to the planning meeting with a number of stories to be worked on should always be avoided. Scrum rules say that this decision has to be taken by the team; getting everyone involved in that decision-making process will improve ownership of these stories.
The team members should collectively own the stories, handle stand ups and maintain transparency. Ideally any team member should be able to lead a stand up. When the CEO walks to the team, any team member can provide information on what the current state of the project is, what is being done and how close/far the team is in achieving their goal. Members can easily give this information because there is now a greater transparency and everybody takes some responsibility.
The scrum master does not even need to be at stand ups, his role is only to facilitate and should not necessary take and make decisions; it is for the team to make decisions. Metrics like velocity and burn up charts information should be made available and clear to team members, it should not be hidden somewhere a document.
The situation where a few architects and project managers will meet with the clients, gather requirements, estimate these stories before setting up a team and throwing these requirements to the team to work on should definitely be avoided. The team members have to be involved much earlier, they should be involved in the estimation, interact with the user etc. if we follow this approach, all members of the team will have a far clearer picture of what the project is about and understand what they are trying to build.
In conclusion, the team must be involved in the process as early as possible; it should be allowed to self-organise to encourage greater ownership and collective responsibility. If we work towards removing intermediaries from our process and get the team involved in interactions with the customer, we can take great strides in improving the efficiency of our scrum teams.
By: Lawrence Owusu
Appreciation: Thanks to Jennifer, Priyank and Adam Shone for their suggestions and corrections.