Thursday morning, 5th of July 2018, five Sweeties were ready for a day full of inspiration, wisdom and new insights. They were ready for Scrum Day Europe in Amsterdam.
After a short and sunny walk, we reached Pakhuis De Zwyger where we were welcomed by our star wars themed host. We, the rebellion, were ready to be inspired by fellow rebels and jedi masters. In this post we would like to share our key takeaways with you.
Agile and scrum have been around for decades, still we have to cope with widespread myths. Not only believed by non-agilisto’s, even people working with scrum have difficulties letting go of some of these myths.
However, we don’t have to accept those to be true. We have to challenge those ideas, as we discovered in a workshop hosted by the liberators.
The success of a scrum team depends on a lot of things but a clear commitment form the scrum master and product owner is indispensable. They have to commit to the role they have to fulfill, moreover they have to know exactly what that role is and be wary not to fall in common pitfalls, dixit Marcella Koopman:
Dear scrum master, you are not a secretary, police officer or answer man. You have a specific skills set and a full time job. Your job is to be a servant leader to the team enabling them to self organize, grow and work focussed.
Dear product owner, you are not a chief, not a secretary to the product manager, not a switchboard, not above the team. You provide the team with clear priorities and spike discussion about how to build what users need. You enable the team to connect with stakeholders and protect team by saying no once in a while to stakeholders.
As “agile rebellion” we often act as a change agent when we enter an organisation. Change is never easy but we have an obligation to drive it and to inspire people to embrace this change. To do this, we have to understand the process of changes. We found this talk about spiral dynamics from Dajo Breddels and Ron Eringa a particular eye opener in this regard.
The culture of an organisation is composed of a value set of all individuals in the organisation. You can’t change that overnight. Change is an evolution in different phases. We have to go through these steps and shouldn’t try to skip them. We want to gradually change, step by step. It is hard to explain the earth revolves around the sun to a person who believes the earth is flat. Let’s first try to bring them to see the earth is round, then explain the concept of spinning and help them to slowly discover the heliocentric view.
As coaches we have to guide organisations, small steps but in the right direction.
This means we have to learn not to cling to our believes and vision but keep it in mind as the destination, not the road. Spiral dynamics takes into account the system model that the organisation is in to take certain decisions and helps us in our role as change agents.
Classic strategies are hard to reconcile with an agile way of working. The top down, 5 year fixed view goes against everything agile embodies. Moreover, it does not match with reality either. There is no certainty, change is the norm!
But what do we do then? Stick to the old views? Run away from strategy altogether?
There is an alternative. A fixed top down view is useless but we still need vision, a why, a reason. We still need to prepare for an uncertain future. In his talk, transforming agile strategy, Johannes Schartau lets us in, in how we can use liberating structures to develop strategies as a team, taken into account and embracing this uncertainty.
We are looking forward to the publication of his white paper further elaborating on this alternative way of strategizing (http://www.liberatingstructures.eu/strategy/).
Not every topic could be tackled in this post, so here are some quotes which might inspire you in your agile journey.
“Don’t copy paste the Spotify model. It’s not a model, it’s a company.”
“Lead like a gardener, not a commander.”
“Homogeneous teams act like echo chambers, diversity spikes creativity”