This is a story about learning, enabling bureaurcracies, power, incentives and influence. It will unfold over several weeks. Enjoy!
Angelo is an agile coach. Angelo started as a quality engineer on his team who built internal tools. He read a book on Scrum and took a class on how to be a ScrumMaster. He introduced some new practices like retrospectives and daily standup. His team appreciated how he brought the team more predictability and less weekend work for their project work. He also introduced some concepts from Kanban like limiting work in process and measuring and managing his team’s workflow. He liked this kind of work more than finding bugs and filing bug reports.
His manager Carla, buoyed by this success, recommended him to his 5 other teams in another region. Angelo learned a bit about the challenges around consulting, He a couple of books his Scrum trainer recommended – “A Trusted Advisor” and “Secrets of Consulting”. The division, a security team in a financial services company company, adopted agile practices as part of their agile transformation. The PMO was happy because they finally had a system they understood how to engage with.
Another large tech company eventually acquired this team as his title changed from Quality Engineer to the central organization responsible for agile adoption. When Angelo applied and accepted the new role as an Agile Coach in that organization, he was thrilled. Now, he had the authority to make the changes in other organizations that he could never make on his own. He could implement the best practices he always dreamed of.
Angelo was invited to help ScrumMaster Shreya adopt some better scrum practices. Shreya was an independent contributor (IC) for the team who build data analysis tools for a team moving services from SAP to the public cloud. He set up a 1:1 for the next day.
“How can I help you?” Angelo asked.
“I want to become a better ScrumMaster and run my meetings more effectively.” Shreya shared.
“OK, how do you run your scrum meetings today?” Angelo asked.
“Well, the Engineering manager gives individuals a list of things they need to do. In the Scrum Meeting, we review these and make adjustments where it makes sense.”
Sounds like a command and control environment, Angelo thinks. Rather than judge it on the spot, however, he decides to give some of the coaching questions a try.
“What do you want to achieve here?” Angelo asks.
“Well, the meetings are boring, each person reading out to their manager what they did. I want to run the meeting more efficiently.” Shreya replies.
“OK. Do you mind if I observe the meeting?”
“No problem, we have one this afternoon. I’ll forward you the invitation,” Shreya responds.
During the meeting, Angelo takes a bunch of notes. Right after, he slacks them to Shreya.
Sprint Planning Meeting
- The manager is assigning tasks
- Not much conversation between team members.
- No agenda for the meeting
- The team doesn’t leave with a group commitment.
- Missing Product Owner
Shreya shares – “Thanks for the feedback, I’ll take a look”.
Angelo feels happy that he provided some guidance. He has a sinking feeling though, that his advice will not be implemented. So, he decides to meet with Shreya’s boss, Carla. They scheduled a meeting for next Tuesday to find out what is going on here.