Thursday, May 28, 2009

You get the organisation you deserve

The other day I did a two day Scrum Master training and found to my amusement that there were a couple of managers attending. In my Scrum classes I tend to focus quite a lot on how teams work and the importance of building small successes. By that I mean that if you are going to change something you need to have happy, motivated people and one way of getting there is to make sure that the team actually succeeds and that the success gets noticed by the organisation surrounding them. One way that I do to make sure that my teams succeed is to make sure they don't over commit during the first couple of sprints. I make sure the Product Owner presents a clear, fully achievable goal to the team and keep the team focussed on that goal and nothing, absolutely nothing, else.
When I talked about this during the last Scrum training I received a question from one of the managers: how do you prevent the teams from becoming lazy? That is, what if they don't do as much work as they could, if they have hours left and don't fill those hours with work.
How do you answer that? I answered it with a question: what does greed mean to you and how to you think greed affects productivity?
I think that it is a result of greed if you always feel that by getting what you want you always want more and greed leeds to a situation where the people giving you what you want feel (a)bused and it provides a perfect growing ground for distrust and manipulation. If you run your business by greed you will get greedy employees and greedy people tend to be manipulative. Every parent knows that kids don't do what you tell them, they do what you do. The same goes for an organisation and in an organisation it is the management that sets the agenda and the culture - you get the organisation you deserve!
My advice for managers with lazy workers would be to stop whining for just a while and look at themselves and figure out what they did to make people lazy and then adjust themsleves and see what happens to their lazy crew...

Monday, May 4, 2009

The ubiquitous lack of trust

As an Agile Coach I see a lot of efforts to make the transition into the Agile paradigm. A lot of energy is put into figuring out how to do it and how they are going te get the job done - they because it is almost never the people planning the transition who is going to get the work done.
Weeks turn into months turn into years of writing detailed process descriptions on how to deal with defects, when to abort sprints and who is responsible for what and drawing unintelligible process charts with two billion arrows, boxes and toll gates. All done with hope of getting it right the first time...

The lack of trust between management and developer seems to be as strong as ever and comments like "we need to make sure that they do things the right way" and "you know how developers are, if you dont pressure them nothing will get done" or "developers just want to work with cutting edge technology" seem to float around in every management meeting I participate in.

So, with this attitude the Agile transition is planned for a couple of years and no one bothers to build in continuous improvement and no one seems to get that the most important accelerator is the empowered and self organizing team - this is 2009 and we are closer to 1984 than ever!