Avoid Agile Shortcuts and Half Measures

Anthony Mersino
June 26, 2017

As a coach, I frequently meet with managers of software development teams to talk about Agile. They get excited when I talk about Agile and Scrum and how they might improve their software development processes and team productivity.  When I describe the rigor and discipline of Scrum teams and the mindset change required to support empowered and self-organizing teams, they tend to bristle. Letting go of control sounds too radical to them.  "We want evolutionary change" they say, "not revolutionary".  They are hoping that by taking on a few Scrum terms and making a few agile tweaks, that somehow they will get the benefits of changing without really changing.  That would be like trying to improve your health by adding kale to your Big Mac combo at McDonalds. It is a half measure at best.

I've met with one particular software development manager several times.  His teams are using fake Scrum.  They've relabeled their previous process using scrum terminology like sprints and daily Scrum and they now call their project managers Scrum Masters. They use a 4-week "sprint" for development and the next 4-week "sprint" for testing.  I don't know why this manager keeps asking to meet and discuss his challenges.  I don't think he is really interested in change.  He is a micro-manager.  All team decisions go through him.  Both he and his manager have a strong command and control style. Their current mindset doesn't allow them to understand and embrace empowered and self-organizing teams.

And while I believe I am a great coach and my agile training classes for teams and leaders are impactful, I don't feel confident that it would be a good investment in time with this manager and his organization. They want the benefits, but they don't want to change their current habits or do the difficult work that would be required to implement Scrum properly.
 

I liken this to wanting those six pack abs, but being unwilling to do crunches.  Or thinking that 7-minute Abs is better than 8-minute abs.  Stop thinking of half measures! The shortest path to high performance teams for controlling managers is to empower the team and create an environment where the team can do their best work.

 


Big Mac image: https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/full-menu/extra-value-meal.html

Investors in Search of 7-Minute Abs: http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2016/03/investors-in-search-of-7-minute-...

About Anthony Mersino

Anthony is passionate about helping technology teams THRIVE and organizations TRANSFORM.  He loves partnering with organizations to help teams with Agile thinking and the Scrum Framework.  He teaches Agile and Scrum as well as the cultural elements that are necessary for an organization to gain true business agility. Anthony has  authored numerous articles and two books: Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

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