Why is team waiting?

Super Evil team has waited for 3 days for Product Owner’s decision if the layout should be changed or not. Product Owner is still working with different stakeholders and trying to find the best answer so that everyone will be happy.

Product Owner feels sorry that he is slowing down the whole team and team feels frustrated because the Sprint goal seems not be able to achieved.

It looks like the user stories are not ready when team decided to implement them within the Sprint. But when I discussed this with Product Owner, he told me that he is not sure which is the right option for that question. And there are many those ideas in the backlog now. And it will be very hard to make them be ready quickly so that team can implement it. He told me that the current situation is team can implement stories fast but he cannot feed the team continuously. The flow is not smooth.

With further discussion, I realized that the real reasons are

  1. The team is only focusing on delivery. They haven’t been engaged in the whole learning cycle which is from idea to product.
  2. Everyone expect the requirements to be confirmed (what means fixed) before team start to implement it.

But the reality is, when a new idea has been raised, most of cases, we don’t really know what the best solution is. There might be many different options with lots of hypothesis and assumptions. So, it will be very hard also very danger to fix the solution before we test those hypotheses. We need to organize diverse people to work together collaboratively and creatively and experiment different options quickly.

That means, we need to engage team from very beginning. They may provide different viewing angles. They can create prototypes and collect feedback from users quickly so that we can compare different options with actual data.

So, it is not because Product Owner hasn’t done a good job. It is because that decision is very difficult and at the same time team has been excluded from the learning cycle. Hence, they have to wait until something is ready (many times it means confirmed or signed-off)  to deliver. But if we engage them in the whole cycle, they won’t wait. They will contribute their expertise and knowledge and help to experiment different solutions quickly. That will help Product Owner to make critical decisions earlier.