Ctrl + Alt + Delete: Rebooting a Team โ€“ Part 2

In part 2 of the Ctrl + Alt + Delete: Rebooting a Team series, we take a look into the next step of rebooting a team and learning more about each other as individuals.

We’re going to run through a technique that allows you to reveal what skills the people in your team already have and what knowledge they are trying to acquire next.

You’ll find that someone is looking for knowledge that someone in the team already has. You’ll also identify opportunities to learn completely new things together.

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, please take a look there first and complete your team’s journey lines. It serves as a great foundation for this next step.

Introducing Team Market Stalls

The technique is called “Team Market Stalls”. This method allows us to identify all of the skills everyone in our team has; what they already know and what they are looking to learn, as well as what they are planning on learning next. This helps our team to improve as a whole, whilst also helping individuals grow as people.

You can complete this in a normal team retrospective, or as an ad-hoc meeting as required. About an hour is about right for a team of 3-9 people.

A team is greater than the sum of it’s parts; we work together, support each other and help each other to achieve success. However, success is not only realised by achieving our sprint goals, but also success as people. Each person will define success in their own individual way, and as a team we can accelerate personal success by helping each other to achieve it.

What you need

  • The whole scrum team (Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team)
  • About 1 hour
  • A safe space (physical or virtual)
  • A whiteboard (I can hugely recommend miro.com for an online whiteboard solution), sharpie pens, large sheets of paper and post it notes
  • Some blu tack to stick your sheets of paper to the wall

Step 1 – Set up your stall (10 mins)

Ask everyone in the team to draw their own personal skills market stall, it should be built to the following “market standards”, each stall must:

  • Have a large stall name (ideally with the name of the team member in it)
  • Have an area showing primary skills; skills everyone knows or expects you to already have
  • Have an “under the counter/black market” area with skills people don’t necessarily know that you have – your secret skills.
  • Have an area for skills and knowledge you are trying to acquire – a wanted area.

Be as creative as you want.

Instruct everyone to not write anything in those areas yet – leave the stalls empty.

The market inspector (Scrum Master – or whoever is facilitating the session) needs to make sure that all the stalls are up to standard.

This part of the retrospective is the ice-breaker – it gets everyone involved.

Step 2 – Inspect each stall (2 mins)

The Scrum Master will then go round each stall and check that it’s up to standard; this can be done as each team member is drawing to save people having to start from scratch whilst everyone is watching…

Step 3 – Stock Up (15 mins)

Ask each person in the team to start adding the skills and knowledge they already know, and the skills they want to learn, to each section of their beautiful market stalls.

As the Scrum Master, make sure that each person understands that they need to fill in at least one item in each of the three sections:

  • Obvious skills
  • Non-obvious skills
  • Things they want to learn

Step 4 – We’re going to the market! (5 mins per person)

In turn ask each of the team members to read out everything in their stalls, all of the skills they already know, those that weren’t so obvious, and those that they want to learn.

As the Scrum Master, encourage everyone to ask questions about what’s being discussed, start making connections between people that want to learn similar things, start making connections between people that know things and people that are seeking those very same skills.

When everyone has had a chance to go through their stall you can start wrapping up.

Example Team Market Stall

Here’s an example of a market stall from a sprint retrospective I did a while back.

Example Market Stall from a Team Market Stall retrospective
  • Blue post it notes are the obvious skills
  • Red post it notes are the not so obvious skills
  • Green post it notes are the wanted list

Step 5 – Wrapping Up

If you are running Team Market Stalls as part of a team retrospective, you are going to need to create at least one team improvement to put into the sprint backlog for the next sprint.

To achieve this, I ask each person to identify what the next step is to achieve progress towards one of their wanted skills, and to put that step into the next sprint backlog.

At the end of that sprint, in the next sprint retrospective, we’ll discuss how that first step went (and what’s next).

Summary

Team Market stalls are a technique I learned at some point during my journey as a a Scrum Master and I wanted to share it with you because it’s been very helpful for me in the past. It’s a great way of getting to know each other and helping others become successful in their own careers.

By adding an action to your next sprint retrospective, you are ensuring each individual person is accountable for trying to improve themselves. You are making their personal goals transparent to the team. You are helping each other achieve success.

That goal of achieving success together, be it completing your sprint goal and/or becoming more successful people, are the foundations of building an awesome team.

With the knowledge gained about each other in this exercise, you’ll find that it’s going to be easier for the team to self-organise and decide who does what in sprint planning; be it choosing the most skilled person, or choosing the person who wants to skill up in that particular area.

I hope you enjoyed this article and it helps your team improve! If you know anyone else that would benefit from this knowledge, please share using the links below.

Till next time.

Stephen Waring
Stephen Waring

I’m an enthusiastic and energetic Scrum Master who loves everything about Agile!