Agile alarms – part 1

Lately it becomes more quickly visible to me when people have difficulties understanding the agile values.

Certain reactions or statements are alarming. For instance this example:

During a sprint planning, the Scrum master gets nervous when discussions about a user story take some time. He tries to pressure the team to cut their discussions short, or worse, demand a story point estimate immediately, so they can move on to the next one.

The idea behind this behavior is closely related to classical management style. Workers are told what to do, by when. Reasons or goals are not communicated. Feedback is not requested. Perception exists that managers have more knowledge about the actual production process than the executors. He wants to get this planning meeting over asap, because it is costing x developers per hour.

In the western industry of our days this idea is no longer valid. More and more people are working in creative processes, which have the property to be difficult to plan. You need intense collaboration between management and execution in order to come up with a realistic short-term planning. Trust needs to be established when moving towards a goal oriented management style. The people who are executing the process are in most cases best suited to make decisions about the execution, within the boundaries of the goal and strategy. Using the knowledge and creativity of the people to reach goals and even exceeding them distincts great companies from mediocre companies already and will do so more and more in the future.

Please let them finish their discussions, otherwise these will pop up during development and you will be in bigger trouble because estimations have been made and committed to.

This is a great post by Bas De Baar of Project Schrink about the difference between Top Down and Bottom Up project management.

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.

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