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Proactively Address Risk

Organizationally we want to better make and meet commitments in each sprint and ultimately better predict delivery of key features. A key skill enabling this is the ability to proactively deal with risks therefore reducing issues.

Surfacing Risks

The team is usually in the best position to understand and identify risks. They are close to the work and generally have a good idea of what potential challenges exist. One way to give space to surface these risks is to conduct a confidence vote during iteration planning. This can simply be a “fist of five” vote where holding up 1 finder signifies low confidence and holding up 5 signifies complete confidence. As team members vote you can ask “what would it take to get to a higher number?” Usually the team will discuss various risks and blockers that can be captured by the facilitator.

Take Action

Once you have a list of risks it’s time to take action. If necessary, put corrective action in the team’s backlog before completing iteration planning. Often a risk is something a team can’t resolve on it’s own and the scrum master needs to involve other members of the organization to mitigate the impact. In this case the scrum master should be sure to bring this up at the Scrum of Scrums meeting escalating as needed. If you don’t currently have a scrum of scrums planned you should consider adding one on a weekly basis (or at least once a sprint).

It’s critical to proactively intervene on the team’s behalf to ensure potential challenges are known and mitigated as best as possible. Should it become clear a risk will become an issue escalate immediately and make sure the organization knows the potential impact.

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