Leadership,  Management,  Scrum


When we read about motivation and what makes an organization effective, we often find that the control over one’s work and time is at the very top. We see this in for instance 3Ms 15% rule. Or for that matter, flex-time has the same goal. I even think I heard about a company that had no required work hours at all. Or how about having the possibility to not have to work at the office?

This is also one of the big reasons when people start their own business. To take control over their own time. It is not hard to see that if you choose to do something you are much more motivated than if you are told to do it.

Guess what one of the biggest perks of Scrum is?

For instance, the backlog and the sprint. It is designed so that the stakeholders (customers, bosses, project managers and everybody else) collaborate with the developers to prioritize all the work. After negotiating with each other, everybody gets a piece of the pie. Yes, developers add things to the backlog too. This is manifested in the order of the backlog. A simple, yet powerful way of showing everybody what is most important.

And then, everybody backs off.

Now, it is up to the team.

Sprint planning, the team, including the Product Owner who represents the stakeholders, controls how much goes in the sprint and what stays out. The team says when it is enough. Nobody from the outside controls this. The order in the backlog is reflected in the sprint, of course. With the caveat that the team has the technical knowledge to know that certain things has to be done before others, and that is how it will be done.

Then we start the actual work, that is the sprint. Each member of the team picks a task to work on. When finished, they pick another. Nobody outside the team tells anybody what to do or in which order to do it.

When the sprint is over, we reconnect with the rest of the world. It is time for the sprint review. Or as many people call it, the demo. The team and the stakeholders work together and discuss each user story. Is it what was expected? Should we change anything? And the future, what are the expectations from the stakeholders on the next step? How does the work that we finished connect with the big picture?

After that, the retrospective follows. The team controls how they do things. Again, nobody else is dictating the way they do the work. After all, the team members are the experts. Now, the way we do things right now, it is of course not always the best way. For instance, when a team starts with scrum, we are strict followers of the way it is described because we have to break the habit of how we used to do things. And agile thinking is often counter intuitive to a person that is used to the old ways. But as we mature as Agilitas, we start to see what works and what doesn’t. So, we gather in a retrospective and discuss how we can improve things.

This is key, because like snowflakes there are no two teams that are the same. The personalities and the knowledge of each team member forms the team. It is just foolish to think that every team has to do things the exact same way. By the way, things also change over time, new team members, new knowledge, people change, the company changes. So, the team has to have control over how they work to really be effective.

And one final thing. In scrum, the team is not a piece of machinery that can be controlled by pushing buttons. The scrum mindset is that the team is equal to every other part of the company, and internally they are self-organizing. We are a partner that the company collaborates us, not minions to boss around. Or even worse, micromanagement. There is nothing that signals that they don’t trust you as strong as micromanagement.

This is one of the major reasons why scrum never lifts in many companies. Scrum is so focused on creating this environment, and if not everybody in the company plays the same game, there will be friction. Ask me how I know…

— Cheers!

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