Recently, my colleagues and I were given a task to gather requirements and present a working tableau dashboard to a client in just under 1 week. At the Data School, we’re trained in Scrum for running projects, which you can read about here. Until now, I’ve never lead a team to deliver a project, and never applied the scrum methodology.

I put my hand up to volunteer to be the scrum master for the week.

For such a time sensitive task, it would be vital that work was thought about efficiently, and tasks were spread among the team well to avoid pointless work or duplicate efforts. An added wrinkle of complexity was that part of my team would be remote from Sydney, and some in-person at the Melbourne office.

I had been wondering recently, if I had been given the chance to change 3 things that I could control, what would they be? This is what I came up with.

 

Have a clear objective the team is working towards

If you create a clear goal for the group, they will generate ideas to improve both the overall project, and make better decisions on individual tasks.

This was the first thing we began talking about, and did not finalise until late mid-week. This meant that there was a lot of reshuffling work, getting rid of tasks, changing tasks and general annoyance to my team. Making sure this critical step was achieved sooner would have greatly improved the productivity of the team and the quality of the project.

Keep standups short, take obstacles & problem solving offline

Keeping our daily standups short means less time wasted, especially in an environment like this where tasks have immense time pressure.

If these conversations need to be had, take them offline so that people that aren’t affected can get back to being productive as quickly as they can. Team members might have obstacles and want to talk through problem solving, but do this outside of the standup to help minimse time pressure.

When uncertainty about direction arises, be deliberate in the path the team takes

There were a couple of times in the project where some group members had disagreements about the direction of the project, and I wasn’t sure the best approach to take.

This experience taught me that the team lead is ultimately the tie breaker and conductor of the project. To keep the team unified and pushing forward, consider all perspectives and then make a clear and quick decision to find the best way forward.

Outcome

In the end, our team delivered a project to stakeholders midday on Friday that sparked ideas. The journey there was not a straight path, but if I had been able to implement these 3 lessons effectively, our project could have been done faster, with less stress, and of a higher quality. To see another Data Schooler’s perspective, check out Oliver Inthavong’s post here.

By writing this post, you might be able to skip the growing pains I went through and immediately apply them to your situation to create better outcomes.

The Data School
Author: The Data School