Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SCRUM Survival - Need for SCRUM Evangelists

If you are like me who believe SCRUM not only will solve the current project problems but also give a good and sound structure for building a high performance team and you are the first proponents in your team/organization, Read On....

SCRUM way of working requires a "cultural" change. It, hence requires mindset change, belief in common sense that at times are counter intuitive, letting go of control and living always in middle of collaborating and democratizing decision making and importantly needs backing of the entire organization structure to support it.

SCRUM is not a start and stop application. It requires calibration till the "cultural adaptation" meets Agile goals as per the SCRUM framework and enables you to achieve results quickly, with all round satisfaction and happiness.

How do you initiate SCRUM in your organization ? How well and how much do you require to sustain it ? When do you have to push SCRUM mainstream ? How do you address skeptics, fence sitters and passive supporters ? Where does the critical mass lie ? When can a SCRUM implementation move beyond "you" to a culture that you have enabled multiple evangelists?

The series of blog posts seeks to address these burning desires. Some of the points in these posts will show a bias towards my personal thoughts and tribulations in my trial runs by fire with one and only belief that

"SCRUM is a GREAT philosophy to execute WELL-RUN projects"

Part 1: Need for a SCRUM Evangelist:
SCRUM literature does not speak about it. The belief is that roles in SCRUM would be their own evangelists. However in practice, it is important to seek one. Here is a first pitch job description of a SCRUM Evangelist.

1. Must believe and understand the Agile Manifesto. Important to repeat it atleast once a day. Speak about it in meetings when resolving decisions and issues.
2. Must be a signatory to the "declaration of inter-dependence"
3. First should be able to learn to adapt and then to introduce rules. Have seen SCRUM Masters come in and say, we do not need Project Managers. First death knell for any initiative is to remotely associate and introduce insecurity in workplace in taking an initiative.

4. Can demonstrate ability to resist temptations to

4.1 Move back to old ways of working.
4.2 Being dogmatic about SCRUM rules and thereby be inflexible

5. Fearless for loss of job, failure and share success. SCRUM Evangelist must be driven by motive and attempts made with every learning to make SCRUM successful for future benefits.
6. Should be a prolific writer who can identify success stories and propogate them with tying in relationships to SCRUM methodologies through presentations and articles.
7. Make sure to customize SCRUM over and above SCRUM mandated policies. It is required. SCRUM may not answer say the budgetary spends or for that matter, the remaining time to completion vs the time a story is dormant in a queue. (Burndown charts have their own limitation).

8. Should be a person who does not rely on tools and does manual work, if necessary multiple times. Start with available tools (Excel, Paper, Charts, Post Its, etc). Then introduce tools that make more sense to the culture.
9. Must be a person who can think "culture" and not "process"
10. Conduct Retrospectives and document and share learnings across teams.
11. Constantly speak the SCRUM lingo for any reference to make people imbibe the SCRUM way of working.
12. Should be able to build a name-product association with SCRUM. Think Agile, SCRUM, Think "You" the evangelist.

How else have you evangelised and introduced SCRUM in your organization ?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Achieving Results

Where there is the right blend of tools (could be a process, people, product, intermediate outputs/raw materials), there is an easier way to achieve the results. Relying on alternatives and adjusting work styles to suit a tool  is one side of the equation. Creating and owning your own tools is the other better side. This has a far greater productive quotient for both you and achieving results with aplomb.

The tools that are part of the work "culture" and does not force limitations on styles of working, gets better and better with usage, observation and evolution. Thus, a sense of belonging, togetherness, and shared passion evolves in business and relationships alike with networks, community and ambassadors around the "tools". People who have converged on this one "tool", getting together and demonstrating more similar thoughts in other areas amplifies the network effects of spreading good words and work alike. Many from this one group could be related in more ways with other products, company, industry, social media, tools, etc.

When such communities get together to accomplish a result, the communities of practice become a self-sustaining organization breaking the barriers of time and space.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Develop support systems to build your core

If you want to be a great manager, you cannot acheive greatness by focussing on getting management theories right. Rather if you focus on another area that is your ally - either estimation, troubleshooting, solutioning, reporting, communication or coaching people and bring in management tasks to work with your key strength, the chances for management greatness is likely.

If you need to be a great parent, it doesn't matter if you give them what they want or support in every all the time. Rather working on making them get it with right means and helping them overcome themselves will make them remember you fondly. It does matter for them when the time is qualitative and there is an element of learnability for them. 

If you need to be a good developer, then it doesn't matter if you remember syntax and code and master programming languages and tools. You do get a chance towards greatness if you can develop business mapping to technology abilities and choose the right fit  and deliver them.

If you need to be a trainer, practicing platform speeches, stage manners, crowd controlling etiquettes and rigors of training elements will not get you good satisfaction scores. However, if you are a good listener and share how you learn and show keenness to listen genuinely, then more than the subjects that are taught, we will know the key takeaways better. We have experienced this with the teachers we like. The subjects come naturally to us because we like them and find them great.

If you want to be known as talent manager, it is not just hiring experts and spotting experience that will get you the name. Instead finding fresh talent and grooming them for future will get you the recognition.

In every sphere, it is not the core that should alone be the focus. If it becomes the sole focus, then you get to be the weakling. Imagine a manager who manages and delivers projects successfully but is a bully with team members and is narrow in looking at profits from client relationships, a parent who always controls the child to do exactly the way they wish to see them perform or supports all small excesses, a developer who cannot write or speak their understanding, or a coach who believes in speaking all the time. These are the problems of being excessive at core and forgetting to develop their own support systems. No wonder all of them are good at their work and we need them all the time. But from personal standpoint, there isn't much to gain.

The core needs support and development from the external systems to elevate the spirit of core. Concentrate on how you can build and develop the core with association of support to provide for all-rounded greatness.

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