There are a few key factors that will improve your chances of success during a Scrum transformation. First, you’ve got to have team members who already know each other. Scrum will put a new set of pressures on the team to perform, and existing work relationships make the transition easier by allowing them to focus on Scrum, not group ice-breakers. This doesn’t mean you can’t have success with newly-formed teams, it just means the process may take a bit longer than a team that already gels.
Since Scrum is optimized by face-to-face communication, it’s also better if the team is co-located. This will make it easier to connect, receive feedback and enjoy the serendipitous innovation that comes from water cooler conversations or impromptu whiteboard sessions. That’s not to say Scrum doesn’t work for distributed teams, it just adds one communication barrier.
Success also depends on cross-functional team members who have a willingness to help each other. While specialists are always needed, teams that capitalize on each member’s strengths and encourage them to build general skills will achieve more of their goals each sprint.
For instance, if Tom can write web copy with Sally once he’s done coding, and Jeff can help Bill with testing, we get a more effective team. When the whole team participates like this, it eliminates the assembly line environment so everyone is responsible for the entire product’s creation – soup to nuts.