CHOW #214 – Role Clarity & Clouded Minds

In this large enterprise IT function, a cross-functional program level team was formed. Purpose of the team was to orchestrate flow of value end-to-end in collaboration with their Scrum teams, portfolio team and other key business stakeholders. Many middle managers were pulled into the team with roles like Program Lead, Chief Scrum Master, Chief Product Owner, Release Manager, People Manager, Architect, QA Lead and UX Lead. While they seem to understand the purpose, they were struggling to figure out their new roles and what they are supposed to do as a team. As an agile coach, what would be your approach to help the managers?

Suggested Solution

Let us start with one thing I would not recommend – that is to come up with a RACI chart. In my view, that creates boundaries for each person and our goal is to remove boundaries.

I believe the key is for the team to understand what needs to be done to fulfill the purpose and take collective responsibility for it as a team. One approach would be to run a workshop and get the team members to list the necessary activities of the team. Initially the list would be long but team would be able to group those activities into key responsibilities.

Obviously, there are specialist roles in the program team and people will volunteer to accept their primary responsibilities. Each team member can also figure out the areas where they can contribute and areas where they are willing to learn about.

I would also suggest 1:1 sessions with the team members to help them clear their clouded minds more by a coaching approach rather than telling them what to do. Program Lead and the Scrum Master may need guidance on how to help the team to mature over a period of time.

The goal is for the team to see how they are to work together to achieve the purpose while they understand their role’s primary responsibilities. In my experience, it does take time for the team members to have clarity of their roles and how they fit into the team. As trust builds up, team’s effectiveness would also improve. Be patient.

What do you think?

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