Bottom line question: Can a Scrum team be made up of two testers, two developers, one SQL DBA and a build engineer, each of whom ONLY do their own tasks and work as separate silos within the Team?
I’m doing some research for a newsletter article and blog post and am trying to understand cross-functional teams in Scrum. From my prior understanding, one of the defining factors of cross-functional teams is that they are made up of “cross-functional” individuals, who can work on different types of problems. For instance, in Scrum everyone is called a Developer if they are on the Team. This is true whether or not they have deep skills in actual coding. (reference: latest Scrum Guide on Scrum.org). The benefit being that if the testing effort is threatening the sprint, then the people with software development skills can work with the team members with stronger test skills to complete the sprint on time. This benefit is very clear and has been noted by multiple people, such as Don Reinertsen (Principles of Product Development Flow) and many, many others. I even seem to remember learning about that benefit from my very first Scrum Master course.
However, it appears I’ve made an assumption that is not necessarily true of Scrum, and I can’t find good references in the canonical Scrum literature (new versions) telling me that cross-functional individuals are encouraged (demanded?) as part of Scrum. The Scrum Guide defines a cross functional team as “Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team.” I can find nowhere in the guide that states that Scrum teams should be able to work in areas that are strengths of other team members.
So, the question again: Can a Scrum team be made up of two testers, two developers, one SQL DBA and a build engineer, each of whom ONLY do their own tasks and work as separate silos within the Team?
Note that I’m not asking if it’s a good idea, but whether it is OK in formal Scrum. It has, in the past, seemed to me that it not a good idea. However, I will argue in the upcoming newsletter article that cross-functional individuals on cross-functional teams may be hiding dysfunctions and slowing process improvement efforts. (Based on some thoughts in Toyota Kata, by Mike Rother.)