Strategic learning in Scrum teams

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While dealing with the increasing complexity of software development, teams need the ability to gain new skills while they work. Fortunately Scrum has some embedded learning with the feedback loops that take the form of Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.

But this kind of learning is more tactical. Meaning it addresses short term challenges, extracting lessons learned and acting upon improving immediately in the next sprint. For example, in the Agile in Romania Study we can observe that most learning is done by individual study and practice. What I noticed is that most of the team lack strategic kind of learning that allows productivity gains and product improvements.

Scrum Masters are usually encouraged to keep their eyes open for impediments and find effective ways to remove them. Product Owners have the pressure to satisfy customer requests and deal with ever growing backlogs. Development team members struggle to reach the promised velocity while coding systems that are no longer maintainable due to technical dept.

Learning and development is not a problem of content. You can find information with few clicks. Simply enrolling people in a platform, sending them to training or a conference won’t do the trick. Well not on the long term at least. You need to engage people in creating so that they effectively acquire the knowledge and skills.

So what can be done to integrate strategic learning for Scrum teams? Here are some ideas for setting up a process:

  1. Consult reports, literature reviews and state of the art studies
  2. Identify knowledge gaps
  3. Have the teams discuss and debate trends
  4. Set goals and topics to be researched
  5. Create meaningful Communities of Practice
  6. Define a structure and learning artefacts that would be produced
  7. Disseminate information

How would you engage teams in strategic learning?

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