Virtual Knowledge Area teams:
We have been experimenting with setting up Virtual Knowledge Area teams (e.g. communities/guilds) as actual Scrum teams. The team consists of specialists or people who like to get deeper knowledge in the teams' topic area. They have a Product Owner, a person who creates a backlog and has the final say in prioritization of the virtual team's backlog. The team has a Scrum Master, one who facilitates the process.
The first session(s) the team fills out the Working Agreement Canvas. This gives them a mission and real purpose. Instead of just being an informal chat group, also if you publish the teams' canvas the rest of organization can see what they can expect of the team, and maybe even put stuff on their backlog.
I tend to spend around 10-20% in my virtual team. We block a morning each week and run two-week Sprints. As our time is limited for this team, we keep the Scrum events short as well.
- 1-hour max Sprint planning: E.g. set a Sprint goal, make stories clear and order the backlog. (We aim for 30 minutes)
- We work together on the Sprint backlog items in the blocked mornings or what is left of it after the Sprint events.
- Depending on the plan, people work individual some hours on the backlog items every day as they see fit.
- We tend to skip the Daily Scrum, although in some cases the team does meet regularly to sync. In some cases, we take a couple of minutes during the Scrum of Scrums with relevant members to go over the backlog.
- 15 min max Sprint review: We discuss our results and close the Sprint.
- 1-hour max Retrospective: Resulting in one Kaizen for the next Sprint. (We aim for 45 minutes)
I think you should feel free to let the team evolve into something different than Scrum. But Scrum is a nice starting point, everyone knows it, building a backlog together gives real purpose, retrospectives tends to optimize the teams limited time.
- People should not be in more than one virtual team, next to their full-time Scrum team.
- The virtual team should try to delegate work to other real Scrum-teams, instead of trying to work in parallel.
- Make pairing appointments with team members, as it is much more effective to keep focus, motivation and really getting stuff done. We often book a meeting room for some hours to work in. For example, migrating teams from one tool to another after we did research and agreed on a new way of working.
We also experiment with Open Fridays. No regular work, just learning, collaboration and sharing.
- Pitch ideas you want to research, work-on or experiment with.
- Make groups
- Work together
- Share the results at the end of the day
This could be a more non-formal way of bringing like-minded people together without disturbing their regular teams' workflows.