Team Did Not Split In Feature Teams

On our project, there is a total of 21 tech people (plus managers and translators).
3 of us are onshore.
18 offshore.

You would expect this to lead to a natural split into 4 teams, right? 1 onshore, 3 teams of 6 offshore. Or maybe 3 Teams of 7 people, considering that we onshore are officially there for support (and not particularly for implementing features, though we do occasionally). This would nicely fit in the “7 plus or minus 2” rule, right?

Incredible as it may sound, that is not what happened.
A couple of months after Craig introduced Scrum, I was wondering why there had been no mention of Feature Teams.

As it turns out, Craig *did* explain to them very clearly the benefits of splitting in feature teams. During the Retrospective Meeting, the Team (of 15 people, at the same) took the clear position that they did not want that to happen.

Craig’s opinion on this is that, in Scrum a Team takes its own decision. And if they do not want to follow a rule, then they shouldn’t be forced to.

Is it really so simple? For me, refusing to split in Features Teams is akin to flatly refusing to do Scrum at all. In the literature, I don’t really remember Ken Schwaber mentioning that it was optional, or even strongly recommended. It’s more like: “split the people in Teams, and then get them to choose tasks from the backlog”.

Now, I agree that once the team has decided *not* to split, then it is probably already too late. But why give them a choice at all? There are many other things they had no choice about, starting with using Scrum. I am convinced that, if they had been made to split in Teams, then they would have happily followed along without thinking twice about it.

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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