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I've recently worked on a project where the Team lead was commenting he needed to figure out which stories we are going to be working on in a scrum. It was my understanding that stories are prioritized and perhaps a number of stories are added to a sprint from that list. At this stage during our scrum the developers each pick a story they are going to implement and off they go.

I suppose if a number of stories have dependencies them the team lead might help facilitate the story priority within the sprint itself but not actually dictate which developer does which?

None of us are juniors in the team and we all have equal knowledge about the domain. Our experience of particular facets of the layers i.e. UI, database, infrastructure vary but not dramatically so.

So my main question is as to the role of a Team lead (and other developers I guess) within a sprint itself and delegation of stories.

If it helps, the project was a MVC .NET application with some database backing. Our team consisted of 4 developers, 1 tester and a Project manager.

  • If you're not careful, you'll focus on the dependencies too much and too soon, that you won't have any working software after your first sprint is completed. – JeffO Jun 20 '14 at 13:07
  • @JeffO What do you mean focus on the dependencies too much? Why would we do that? – dreza Jun 20 '14 at 19:34
  • @drezda - For example, how long could you put off making any design decisions about the database? Certainly, you could deliver a lot of working software to the client without one. Then when you fully understand the needs of the client/app after a few sprints, you have more information to base database decisions on. – JeffO Jun 27 '14 at 1:55
  • @JeffO ah yes, I see. Not sure how that relates to my question about the role of Team lead, but thanks. – dreza Jun 27 '14 at 2:15
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Let me try and address your question as it relates to agile and Scrum (for more details review the Scrum Guide and the Agile Manifesto):

  • In Scrum stories are for the entire team not for individuals. During sprint planning the team and the product owner decide which stories would be tackled during the sprint.
  • In Scrum there is no team lead.
  • A Scrum team is self-organizing, that is no one tells the Scrum team how to work on a particular problem.
  • In Scrum there is no project manager. There is a Scrum Master, a Product Owner, and the Team.
  • The Product Owner is responsible for the backlog, it's content and ordering. The team is responsible for all estimates for the backlog.
  • Agile is a set of guiding principles for software development. Agile doesn't specify any specific practices. Agile methodologies such as Extreme Programming specify practices that meet the spirit of agile.

All that said, it is typical that organizations will have their own "flavour" of "Scrum" or "Agile". If your boss is your team lead and he wants you to work in a certain way it is important to understand that is what you're trying to address rather than the details how how Scrum or Agile are supposed to work. Going to your Team Lead and telling them there's no "Team Lead" in Scrum, though true, isn't going to be useful. It's extremely unlikely that a team lead would resign their position upon hearing that bit of information. In many situations, taking the position that Scrum is supposed to be done a certain way will be counter-productive to impacting change. Ideally you should be able to persuade others that a certain change is good on it's own merit rather than referring to some standard way of doing something.

To conclude it sounds like you should approach your team lead and suggest that you and the other developers are capable and should be able to select the stories/tasks they work on during the sprint. You'll need to be able to articulate the benefits of this without appearing to criticize the way you currently work. You can suggest to try out doing things differently for the next sprint and see how it works out. Typically this sort of activity would occur during the sprint retrospective which I'm guessing your team does not do.

  • Thanks for the post. We have done retrospectives on other projects but this is a new one and it's the first time this person has been designated "team lead". I guess suggesting politely that we can choose our own tasks might be a good way to go about it and see where that goes... – dreza Jun 19 '14 at 23:50

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