The Scrum Team - And Why We Should Not Be All The Same

Submitted by Andreas Schliep on 12/10/2011

There is a topic that frequently comes up when we're talking to people new at Scrum. If we want to have a Scrum Team that is able to deliver everything about a desired product, do all team members need to have the same skills? Our everyday life tells us that nobody can excel in more than a single area. For instance, Peter Beck is the most creative guy in DasScrumTeam. My sister Julia is extraordinarily diligent. And I am a good analyst. We need all these talents in our business. The different talents come together when we are working as a team. Our products - Scrum trainings and coaching engagements - require this combination to be successful.

There is a topic that frequently comes up when we're talking to people new at Scrum. If we want to have a Scrum Team that is able to deliver everything about a desired product, do all team members need to have the same skills? Our everyday life tells us that nobody can excel in more than a single area. For instance, Peter Beck is the most creative guy in DasScrumTeam. My sister Julia is extraordinarily diligent. And I am a good analyst. We need all these talents in our business. The different talents come together when we are working as a team. Our products - Scrum trainings and coaching engagements - require this combination to be successful.

 A similar reasoning applies to the setup of the Scrum team. We need all the technical skills to build the system, as well as various social skills and natural talents. It is simply impossible to see all of these skills, abilities, approaches and personalities in one single human being. Glenda Eoyang uses the CDE - Containers, Differences and Exchangesmodel to describe the influential and benefical parameters for self-organizing teams. The importance of variety is under-estimated. Thus, variety within the team, not only out of necessity, since we simply can't hire the all-in-one graphic designer, frontend, database and business modelling professional, but because we want to enhance the energizing exchange within our team container and between the team and the outside world, is not a problem but a prerequisite for successful self-organization. One, that takes us out of our comfort zone.

Back to our small team, we would not come far without the ceaseless creative ideas from Peter. We would drift into chaos without the dilligent - and sometimes unnerving questions from Julia. And it would be hard to keep track on the community developments, different methods and new insights without me. That does not mean that Julia is not creative, or that Peter can't analyze. It means that the combination is much stronger than the single is a good approach to utilize our differences, instead of keeping us apart by resource-optimization. Scrum is a team game.

Andreas Schliep

About the author

Andreas Schliep

Andreas Schliep is a founding member and executive partner of DasScrumTeam. He is a Scrum coach and trainer. He studied at the technical university of Bremerhaven, and worked as a software developer, project manager, team lead and group lead. Andreas has worked with Scrum since 2003. He became a full-time Scrummer in 2006.

Since then, he has helped to introduce and improve Scrum and agile practices in numerous companies all over the world. His favorite topics are quality management and scaling.

  • Experienced ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Coach and Trainer
  • Introduced Scrum at WEB.DE
  • Coaching of internationally distributed teams
  • Transition from RUP to Scrum at UOL Brazil
  • Scrum Trainings and Coaching in Germany, Switzerland and Austria