Get Yourself A Totem Pole! Everybody Has One!

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Tips & Tricks

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Wow, a totem! Why’s it here?

Scrum and their standup practices are quite a topic for more than one chatter. There are tons of various tricks in this field that help people to fully understand what they are doing and be even greater with their daily jobs. Shock is one of splendid methods of achieving goals as a Scrum master. Fun is awesome, as well. Yet be prepared that this particular tip might not work with all Scrum teams. It is awesome for younger members with various legacy burdens.

This one’s great for people that are getting better after waterfall and are new to agile. A thing any dedicated project team may implement as a common practice. Or simply new to agile yet not rookies in the development process. Having a totem is great to make people’s desire (even a habit, I suppose. Yes, definitely a habit) to report to their manager. The ‘authority figure’ isn’t something anybody can easily get out of his mind. That requires effort. That’s where totems come in.

We have a totem of our own, nice!

Creating one is quite easy, really. It can be anything, from a drawing on the whiteboard you have at the place where your standups take place to a team’s mascot or a newly bought toy, plant, cat, whatever. It’s harder with a cat, though, due he constantly refuses to stay at one spot during the standup and is allergic to glue and duct tape.

I’m pretty sure everybody on the team will love it as it looks nice and is quite fun, creative and interesting. And will be making the project quite fascinating. Even more than it originally was.

What to do with a totem?

  • Talk to it, duh! Take turns and talk about work or any important issues that have value to a particular teammate.
  • Don’t get carried away. The ‘totem’s god’ gets tired and does not appreciate wasting time. He is not as dedicated as you guys. 3 statements or questions or whatever is enough per person. That has to do the trick.
  • Remove it after some time as it only replaces one authority figure with the other. This is but a mean to make transfer easier, not a panacea.
  • Do not remove if your team loves it or if it’s a cat. Cats are awesome!
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