In the previous two parts ( part 1 , and part 2 ) we discussed the first six challenges we've encountered implementing Scrum as coaches with Xebia. In this last article, we'll discuss the meta-ScrumMaster role, cowboy behavior, and why agile is not easy.
As in the previous parts the setting is introducing Scrum in fairly large organizations which are mainly waterfall oriented.
#7 Lacking a Meta-ScrumMaster
Adopting Scrum could start from the top in the organization. For example, a CIO needs to handle more projects or shorten their durations and decides to give Scrum a try. But what we often see is that it starts more from the bottom up. Project managers or IT department managers want to improve their project(s) productivity.
When doing Scrum, impediments will pop up that need to be handled. Some of the impediments can be handled by the ScrumMaster and the Scrum teams. On the other hand, we have seen that there are always impediments that show up that are not within the reach of the team, project manager or even the department manager. So these ones often do not get picked up or removed by anyone and remain there during the course of the project. The team just tries to work around them and therefore will not be able to obtain their maximum velocity. Even worse, not being able to solve these impediments leads to local optimization at most. And these local optimizations of IT department managers are often not enough to improve the overall flow of value. Without improving that, the effort and time needed to transform the ideas of the marketing department, by the requirements, development, testing, and maintenance department is not improved and the business benefits are minimal.
So, we need to solve those organizational impediments. To handle those you'll need a senior manager to play the role of Meta-ScrumMaster. You need a person who benefits from global optimization and has the authority to get the right people together to tackle the impediment at hand. A Meta- ScrumMaster operates in the MetaScrum. In the MetaScrum meeting the Product Owners and other stakeholders come together to deal with the adoption of Scrum in the organisation. In these meetings the organizational impediments are discussed and actions set out to resolve them. You could say that in contrast to the ScrumMaster who operates more on the sprint and release level, the Meta-ScrumMaster is operating more on the product portfolio or business strategy level. The focus expands from local optimization to global optimization.
In the MetaScrum you should talk in ‘senior management parlance'. So try to make the impact of encountered impediments visible in terms of delivery time and ROI.
#8 Agile as an excuse for cowboy behaviour
Management has heard about this cool Agile thing. ‘Implementing an Agile method such as Scrum is supposed to fix many problems such as: inability to meet deadlines, improve quality, increase workers happiness, etc ...'
So it is decided to give Scrum a try. Management is convinced, some books were bought and we're good to go! But ... all that happens is that deadlines are still not met, documentation is no longer created, nobody bothers about architecture anymore at all and planning is completely out of the window ... what just happened?
The problem is pretty simple: Management gave the developers sort of carte blanche to forget about all the pesky stuff like plans, deadlines, design, and documentation and just start hacking away. Although scrum is a simple process and propagates principles like "just in time" and "just enough" does not mean you can just discard with