Applying 5 Whys for Team Challenges

An illustration how asking Why can change the way we address challenges that our teams have. Some typical situation: team members are late for stand-up on regular basis. The solutions that I have seen, implemented by different teams, varied from something really awful like “Wall of Shame” (with names of the late-comers there 👀) to some more innocent and funny ones, like putting small amount of money to a jar (to use it later for some snacks-drinks) or performing push-ups (which might be funny and healthy activity for some kind of teams – usually those with high level of energy and with close inter-personal connections, in condition that all the team members are ok with doing this, of course).

Still in many cases, these are just more or less successful attempts to cure symptoms.

And in reality, why people are regularly late to stand-ups? What is so difficult for adult responsible intelligent person to be there in time? And here might be different variations, e. g.:

  • not suitable time – a team member needs to drop their kid to a school,
  • or maybe some personal sleeping habits are a little bit special – and the team can agree another time for stand-up to support the circumstances of the team member
  • some people still can be disorganised – and usually they are the ones who would propose themselves to try those gamifications ideas for their motivation – like piggy bank or push-ups, and this might work to some extent
  • or maybe the team members simply don’t see any value in stand-ups – and thus postpone appearing there as much as possible. And here we need to go to deeper Whys – to understand how to make the stand-ups valuable or to be perceived to be more valuable.
  • or team members don’t respect time of other team members – then it might be a symptom of a very serious dysfunction in the team, which needs to be addressed , and probably quite a difficult conversation should be held

There will be very different solutions to the problem, which looks very simple – and while in one case some particular solution would look innocent and somewhat useful, in other cases it might be humiliating (like for stressed parent) or just ineffective (and well, “Wall of Shame” is never a good one).

See also:
All Retrospectives posts
Retrospective In Pictures





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