The Big Picture

Effective Scrum teams must be able to abstract to different levels of thinking about the work being done. A while ago I blogged on the Scrum mechanism of stepping teams through levels of abstraction during Sprint planning to get past analysis paralysis. I believe that for effective self-organization to be possible, team members must be able to think at the story/PBI, sprint goal, and product goal levels, not just the task level. I call this “big picture thinking”.

When a big picture team member finishes a task she asks, “What tasks remain to meet the exit criteria of this story/PBI?”

When the story is done, the big picture team member asks, “What remaining stories are we missing to complete the sprint goals?”

When the sprint goals are all met, the big picture team member asks, “How can we work more closely with the product owner to make sure we understand the evolving product vision as it stands today?”

This type of thinking leads to teamwork and collaboration to ensure the whole. Task-oriented thinking tends to fragment the team and focuses on individual’s progress without regard for how it’s all coming together. Big picture thinking is how sprint goals come together as a cohesive product by the end of the sprint.

Victor Szalvay

Victor Szalvay currently leads product development for CollabNet’s ScrumWorks® product suite. In that capacity, he works closely with customers, stakeholders, and the development teams to deliver high business value each release cycle. With more than 150,000 active users worldwide, ScrumWorks is used by more than half of the Fortune 100 and boasts the largest market share of any Agile management tool.

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