What has come over Peter ?

Making change happen the lean-agile way

Adjugo, Chris Verlinden

" What has come over Peter ?"

… scrum master Anthony comments to agile coach Nathalie. Peter has just gone along with Nathalie’s suggestion ffor solving Peter’s challenge.

Peter has two agile teams, each a bit larger than they should be. And he needs three teams. So he has been trying to figure out how to break up the teams and assemble the new ones. Except: the teams function well. As they are agile, they will not hesitate to point out to him that teams are expected to be long lived anyway, so what is he thinking when breaking them up?

The exercise is on his desk: what skills does he require in each of the teams, what skills each of the current team members has, matching them in a matrix. Not really all that tough in traditional management think.

Except, he realizes the teams will not welcome the change imposed on them. And he needs them on board for the big challenges ahead.

Nathalie has been going on at him for a while now, explaining how the company needs to change from the current mindset of A (shorthand for waterfall practices and command and control management) to the new mindset B (lean and agile, based on self-governing teams) by using the practices of B rather than those of A. In other words, changing to a more lean-agile mindset while using the practices of lean-agile. Use the carrot of self-governance rather than the stick of command and control.

But this case is a bit more difficult. Scrum relies on long-living teams with a stable composition. All tools they have are about improving the way the team works. Splitting up a well-functioning team for a higher purpose is not in the toolbox of Scrum, is even basically frowned upon I guess. Scrum has no answer and resorting to traditional management practices comes intuitive to Peter anyway.

Nathalie then explains an approach developed in TeamGrowing, a model we are currently elaborating in ADJUGO. Let the teams decide what skills are needed in each of the new teams. Let each of the team members describe what skills they can bring: are they good at it, or do they need some additional teaching, or, on the contrary, can they teach others. They can also determine together what kind of personality each of them has and they can figure out that too many “eagles” on one team and too many “parrots” in the second team is not likely to work out too well.

In other words, let the teams decide how to create the best teams to tackle the challenge posed by the need for three teams instead of two. Self-governing goes past the team. Self-governing requires more than the practices of Scrum, however well they work.

Peter finally grasps Nathalie’s mantra: moving from A to B using the practices of B. Peter can now take the right decisions by intuition, the idea is internalized.

That is what got into him,  Anthony.

ADJUGO launches a first training track on TeamGrowing, starting 4th October and running in 3 sessions of 2 days each. The first session will be in Dutch, but we intend to have the session in English later on.