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Scrum Success: Embracing The Ability To Adapt

Teamwork and brainstorming concept with businessmen that share an idea with a lamp.For more than a year now, we have been part of a team consulting and coach a large client with multinational operations. During that time we’ve seen a shift at the client that reflects why we care about this work. Our role is not to become a permanent fixture. We empower clients and their teams to make their transformation a self-sustaining one.

The Agile journey is theirs. We help make it so.

Generally, at organizations, big decisions are made far, far away from those tasked with carrying them out. In these situations, the people most knowledgeable about their work are sometimes discounted not out of malice, but structure. The one-way information flows in the organization aren’t built to hear what they have to say.

We have seen this change as the Scrum implementation at this client continues to grow. The work of the hospitality teams here serves as a stand-out example.

Don’t let the name fool you. In this context, hospitality teams are accountable for the experience someone has when they enter the building. This includes security passes, managing events large and small, signage, onboarding, event setting up, and stocking pantry areas based on employee preference. In short, these teams are tasked with making sure ‘business as usual’ goes off without a hitch.

A Need To Adapt

As COVID-19 emerged, and the whole idea of ‘business as usual’ evaporated, these hospitality teams were also tasked with a great deal of new work driven by the pandemic.

Suddenly they were setting up and running on-site testing facilities, new hire protocols, health standards, social distancing, and more. We all know just how jarring the COVID pivots have been. These hospitality teams had to adapt to solve complex, ever-changing conditions, rules, you name it.

Their work was always important. COVID made the stakes even higher since the health and well-being of thousands of their fellow employees were now part of their responsibility.

If the company believes that back-to-the-office efforts are essential, even the financial viability of the organization relies on these hospitality teams.

In any other situation, stakes like these would sound overblown. COVID-19 made them real.

Empowered To Thrive

These hospitality Scrum Teams have successfully tackled these challenges. They continue to adapt and pivot as needed, and they’re not shy to tell you why. The teams we’ve talked to say Agility has been essential during the COVID crisis.

The kinds of challenges we’ve seen these teams face are wide-ranging. Take for example the team that had to come into work early because ice and snow were falling off of an office in New York City. This prevented outdoor COVID testing tents from operating. These teams have to refactor essential services almost every week to adapt to factors outside of their control.

To paraphrase what one Product Owner told us, “I don’t know how we would’ve managed this the old way.’

What Agility and Scrum give them is the ability to adapt. They’re empowered to pivot as the conditions demand. The decisions that need to be made can be by those who know the work best. Information flows now go both ways. The vision is shared, the teams are aligned with the overall goals, a bias for action now replaces a need to be told what to do.

Morale and productivity on these teams have soared. These teams talk about how they feel valued and seen.

As we move into other areas, this is something we keep in mind. Focusing on culture, outcomes, process, reflection, allows teams to be ready to rise to the situation. As 2020, and early 2021 show us, you never can predict just how essential the ability to adapt, pivot, and rise to the situation will be.

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