On a team where Agile is the goal (not reality) for project management, I often feel inclined to help others with their work when I have spare time. Unfortunately, this sometimes means I become the owner of work that was poorly scoped and thus I start failing to meet the deadlines that the previous owner gave to customers.

For example, imagine a coworker was asked by a customer to onboard a new data source for the platform. They scope based on a demo-quality setup based and give a week estimate, then they ask for help during stand-up and I offer help (sometimes I'm just told/asked).

Quickly I become the owner and I realize that the original scoped work is lacking in all sorts of quality management like unit/integ tests for the webscraper, testing for the database schema, dev/beta/prod staging, etc. So the original week deadline will not be met if I sacrifice quality. Quality is a recurring issue that eats ~30% if bandwidth when things break.

Furthermore, my projects get pushed back leaving a trail of unfinished work because I keep getting moved to the next high priority to save the day.

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    Have you considered asking your project manager/product owner to make sure that all items have their testing included in their original scopes, or to have the testing explicitly added as an additional user story?
    – nick012000
    May 15 '19 at 6:14
  • When asked to take over, discuss a new time-frame with the manager, and avoid getting deeply involved with others, comments such as " have you considered X" etc may help...
    – Solar Mike
    May 15 '19 at 6:23
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    Quality is a recurring issue that eats ~30% if bandwidth when things break... do you mean lack of quality? May 15 '19 at 6:35
  • I'm confused. In your first paragraph you indicate that you have spare time. Later on, you talk about not finishing things quickly enough, or at all, and always being behind.
    – dwizum
    May 15 '19 at 12:47

You need a proper foundation. Whatever "agile" might be to your organisation, it's unclear how it works in practice and it seems you don't have a guide either.

First example right there: if you are "swarming" stories, you are working as a team. There is no owner of a task in a team. The team owns it.

You need to express those topics in your improvement meetings. I don't know what they are called in your company, if you try Scrum, it's the Retrospective Meeting, for other Frameworks it's called differently.

As a first step immediately stop swarming and prioritize your own work.

Why? Because the powers that made a half attempt at working "agile" will not listen to somebody that (from their perspective) blames agile for their own shortcomings. You need to be good at your job to have a say in how this goes. I know it's not ideal and it's not what agile stands for, but it's the reality of an agile transformation process like yours. To have a say in this, your position needs to be "I did my job well, here's how I did it", not "I could not finish my job because of how we currently do agile".

My personal suggestion for the company: Get help. Get an external coach who can tell both your team and your bosses how and why things work or don't work. There are so many red flags in your story that I don't think whoever leads that transformation now can do it on their own. What you describe is chaos, not agile.

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    Yeah +1. You can't cooperate with people if your goals are different. If you can't get agreement on setting goals as a team, you're probably best to go back and finish your own stuff May 15 '19 at 6:32

In Agile work is owned by the team, however how your team works and how management evaluate individuals may not match.

I would advise you to learn how you are evaluated personnaly and what is required to advance in your career. If your management value individual achievement and clear scoped results it may conflict with shared ownership of work.

Without becoming totally selfish, learn to prioritize your taks first, meet YOUR deadlines and achieve the results expected of you. If you still have time after this then you can help your teammates so that the team can meet its deadlines.

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