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Scrum and traditional Project Managers
Last Post 03 Jan 2014 11:56 AM by michael. 35 Replies.
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Michael
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Michael

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25 Jun 2013 04:47 AM
    Hello guys,

    I started working in a company where Scrum must be implemented.

    I am a certified ScrumMaster and almost 4 years of experience in Scrum and also I have successfully implemented Scrum in other companies and (fortunately) I never had faced problems with Project Managers before.
    The problem here is, currently I am working (or better fighting…) with a team of Project Managers and Business Analysts where few of them are accustom to work in a “give orders and use a whip” “methodology”, even if they are minority, they are contaminating all the other PMs and BAs as well and they are starting behaving as if they don't care about Scrum as much as they've been before.

    This small group of PMs and BAs disagree on everything that I recommend and keep working the same way they used to work before I came in, many times they also are very rude with me and with the guys from the team as well they go to talk directly to the team members directly ignoring me, and keep the “command and conquer” game they have implemented since I started working here, even if the CTO is by our sides, but they keep telling all of us (including the CTO) that we must remember “who’s bringing the money” and “when they give an order, they expect to be accomplished no matter what”.

    The thing is this situation is very frustrating for the team and myself, so any advice would be “very” appreciated.


    Thank you all guys!
    randyh
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    randyh

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    25 Jun 2013 10:40 AM
    Sometimes you have to take what you can get.

    When i meet resistance or skepticism on the implementation of my scrum, I revert back to the three pillars - transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

    One thing you can try is to be transparent about letting them have their way for a sprint or two. Inspect the impact that the decision has had and then solicit suggestions for adaptation.

    In my opinion, the responsibility of being a scrum master isnt to "order" the team to not do waterfall or to do scrum. It is to suggest and let the team self organize. When we suggest, we have to accept that sometimes, those suggestions may not be agreed to and adopted. When we suggest and *expect* that the team does what we say, we are no longer suggesting and are simply giving orders.
    Sanjay Saini
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    Sanjay Saini

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    25 Jun 2013 02:21 PM

    Right and don't expect the 180 degree change. Let them control the direct the team, let the team work according to them. You job is to ensure that the Scrum process is being followed. This set up is going to fail so let team inspect and adapt accordingly, just keep guiding them on it.

    Cheers
    Sanjay
    Maurizio
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    Maurizio

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    26 Jun 2013 02:23 AM
    Thank you both guys!
    Let's see how it goes...
    Ian Mitchell
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    Posts:575
    Ian Mitchell

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    28 Jun 2013 06:01 AM
    If Scrum "must" be implemented, then BA's and PM's don't have a whip to crack. Are you sure the organization is committed to Scrum, and isn't wasting your time as a Scrum Master?

    I'd be tempted to have a forthright conversation with the CTO.
    alicemenezes
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    alicemenezes

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    01 Jul 2013 07:30 AM
    You have to first gel in and create a good rapport with them. Earn their respect. Prove yourself, only then will they give respect. And don't expect sudden change. Give it some time.
    alicemenezes
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    alicemenezes

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    01 Jul 2013 07:31 AM
    You have to first gel in and create a good rapport with them. Earn their respect. Prove yourself, only then will they give respect. And don't expect sudden change. Give it some time.

    _______________
    http://www.agiledistributed.com/tes...Agile.html

    Michael
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    Michael

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    07 Jul 2013 04:54 PM
    Hello guys,

    First of all I want to thank you for all of your replys, I really appreciate them.

    Unfortunately, things still are not going so well.
    I am doing what I already did when I was the Scrum Master in other companies, and that is to suggest, based in Scrum best practices, how PMs and BAs should start retrieving User Stories instead of creating large documentation with analysis and requirements (that are not well understood by themselves and by the Development Team either).
    The only thing I've got, was an email from one of them (PM) making it clear that I must stop telling him how to do his job and that if I wasn't happy on how he is working I should talk to his senior managers. After that, the PM just ignored me the whole day and went to talk to Development Team members directly (as they always did before...) and ignoring every single Scrum rules as well.

    They are really turning my job in a daily nightmare and it seems that nobody wants to stop them.

    Never had this kind or rejection to change in the other companies, maybe because they were committed to implement Scrum for real?
    I am not telling that it was easy, not at all, but here, it's not difficult, it's almost impossible.

    What should I do? Speak with Senior Managers? CEOs? CTOs?
    This is the first time since I am working as a Scrum Master that I am feeling so powerless and so disrespected, and I really don't know what else I could do to change this situation.

    Thank you all guys!
    randyh
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    randyh

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    08 Jul 2013 10:52 AM
    It looks like you feel disappointed that the PMs and BAs are not following scrum best practices and ignore your suggestions for change.

    I am kind of confused when i read your posts though. You say that there are communication issues between the PM's and the team but right afterwards you say that the PM "went on to talk to the development team members directly" and that "nobody wants to stop them"

    Can you tell us what exactly are you frustrated about?

    In what ways have you made the current process transparent so that inspection and adaptation can be done during your retrospectives?
    Michael
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    Michael

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    08 Jul 2013 01:28 PM
    Hi Randyh,

    Yes, you're right, maybe I didn't explain the problem very well.
    I am disappointed because PMs/BAs are going to speak to team members directly about other projects/developments right in the middle of a Sprint, asking them to give estimations for these new developments and changing the User Stories as many times as they want, even if many of them are already included in the current Sprint.
    I saw the development team very excited when we told them that the company decided to implement Scrum, but now they are saying that "as always, it's the company that is not respecting their own rules", they thought that with the new methodology, they wouldn't do multitasking, changing the requirements, and jumping from one development to another in the same day as they always did, so they are asking me "what's changing? They (the company) are always saying they want to change but at the end of the day, we are doing always the same thing" so this is very frustrating for them as it for myself.
    When I say that nobody are stopping them (PMs/BAs)I am talking about the management, if they are not the ones that give the "order" to follow the Scrum rules, the PMs/BAs, just simply keep working in the chaotic way as they alway did and ignore anything I say or suggest.
    Currently there is no communication between PMs/BAs, it's just "Stop doing whatever you are doing and now do this".
    Even if I am trying to stop this behavior following Scrum rules, PMs/BAs just don't want to follow them, as simple as that.
    Unfortunately I have the feeling that the management is not supporting me the way they should.

    I hope this clarify a little bit more the scenario and how I am currently working.

    Thank you for your interest!
    randyh
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    randyh

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    08 Jul 2013 01:35 PM
    Are you fustrated because the PBI's commited to the sprint are changed mid sprint? Is developer morale impacted because of this?

    You haven't mentioned a PO in your posts. Do you have a single PO? What is his role in sprint planning and how does he interact with the development team and PM's?


    Michael
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    Michael

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    08 Jul 2013 02:44 PM
    Yes, the PBIs are changed frequently and even inthe middle of the sprints, and this frustrates the developers because they can't finish what they have commited to do in the current Sprint. Obviously they come to me to complain and ask for help, because they are feeling like PMs/BAs do not respect them.
    I am not mentioning POs, because the idea was the PMs and the BAs to become POs, but they are not working on the PB, they qre not creating user stories and they really don't want to be POs.
    randyh
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    randyh

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    08 Jul 2013 02:57 PM
    If you want to be successful at implementing the scrum framework, you really should revisit your PO role.

    The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the
    desires of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those wanting to change a backlog item’s
    priority must convince the Product Owner.
    For the Product Owner to succeed, the entire organization must respect his or her decisions. The
    Product Owner’s decisions are visible in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog.


    Michael
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    Michael

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    08 Jul 2013 04:11 PM
    Hi Randyh,

    I'm sorry but didn't get the idea.
    I know very well the concept of the PO role, I am not the one that have decided that the PMs and BAs would be the New POs, it was the management that had decided it before I started working in this company.
    The problem here is the resistance from PMs and BAs to become POs.
    I also sent the same role definition you wrote in your message to all the PMs and BAs from day one.
    randyh
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    randyh

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    08 Jul 2013 04:27 PM
    it's okay to break the rules of scrum so long as the scrum team is being open and honest about it.

    Your team has chosen to not have a PO for several sprints and are running into problems.

    I would wait until the next retrospective and approach it as follows. When i refer to the "team" below, i mean your scrum team (PO (committee of PM's, BA's), Devs, SM)

    1. State the situation and get feedback. Do not assign blame.

    2. Solicit feedback from the team on how they feel about the current setup.

    3. Ask the team about what they need but arent getting with the current setup.

    4. Ask the team for suggestions on what they can try to change for the next sprint.

    5. After the team agrees to a direction on the next sprint, stick with it until the next retro!

    I would recommend to stick to the retrospectives to inspect as it seems the team is very much in chaos and your relationship with the PM's have been compromised. By including the development team in the equation and focusing on the needs of every member in the retro, you may have better success.

    Michael
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    Michael

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    09 Jul 2013 12:24 AM
    Hi Randyh,

    Thank you for the advices, I agree with you,the Development Team's feedback is very important and my hopes are that the PMs/BAs hear what they have to say and finally realize that it's important that they work together, not only for themselves, but also for the company.

    Thank you again for your replies and for your advices, I really appreciate it.
    Choisel
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    Choisel

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    09 Jul 2013 04:51 PM
    Hello Michael,

    Just wondering, Does the team of PMs, BAs had a presentation of Scrum and its benefits for the company?
    Was there a presentation of their new role within the organisation?

    This situation reminds me of a sentence in the book Agile Coaching I'm reading, when the author says that often when there is a reorganization, people tend to protect their jobs rather than embrassing the changes. So maybe they don't see how and where they are fitting in the new organization. They may think that you're replacing them, hence the resistance.

    My advices (I totally agree with Randyh's)

    - Get a senior manager to present the way the organization is implementing Scrum
    - Get a senior manager to explain your role within the organization and the nature of your interactions with the other people in the company
    - Don't rush on the team to adopt and absorb Scrum, but ease the transition from the old way to the new one.

    Anyway, good luck with your mission, keep us update.
    Michael
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    Michael

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    10 Jul 2013 04:17 PM
    Hello Choisel,

    Thank you for replying!

    In fact, what I did first was to prepare a brief introduction to Scrum for PMs/BAs, Development Team and Testers. I also have prepared small documents (4-5 pages) with Scrum information regarding their new roles and what Scrum expects from them, so they could use them as reminders of everything I explained during these small introductory training courses.

    I explained all the benefits of Scrum, how it fits with their "new roles", and I also had some "one to one" meetings with them, so I could know them better and also to know if someone had already some kind of experience with Scrum in their previous companies. Most of them never had worked with Scrum or in Agile before, and that's OK.
    What really shocks me is that most of the problems come from the few people that told me that they had already worked with Scrum! So I think they could have had bad experiences with Scrum before or that maybe even if they've been told they were working in a Scrum environment it wasn't really an Scrum environment or maybe... they just didn't say the truth? It's strange, isn't it?.

    I agree with you when you say "when there is a reorganization, people tend to protect their jobs rather than embracing the changes", but that was what I wanted to avoid giving them an introductory training course about Scrum and specifying their "new roles", but it didn't worked as I expected.

    Thank you for your best wishes!
    Michael
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    Michael

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    29 Jul 2013 12:35 AM
    Hello guys,

    After my last post, I have discovered many problems in the company that are not related with the methodology (any...), but related with rejection from PMs/BAs (that as I said in other posts, should be the next POs) to implement Scrum and now with the fear that many developers have regarding implementing the new methodology. They have told me (and to the CTO as well) that they are feeling that the company is implementing Scrum because the management want to control them and fire them based on the performance measurement retrieved with the burndown charts. They also said that they don't want to share their knowledge they have about the applications to others because they "have" to save their "a..es" and keep their jobs keeping this information for themselves.

    I have told the CTO that we need to convince the management to be involved and to have a meeting between them and the team so they can show and openly express all their fears, and explain why PMs/BAs don't want to implement Scrum as well, this way the management could clarify everything to everyone otherwise, implementing Scrum in the company wouldn't be difficult, but "impossible"!

    What do you think guys? What shoukd you do in a situation like this?

    Thank you in advance for helping!
    randyh
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    randyh

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    29 Jul 2013 10:33 AM
    As a member of any organization, I would feel very concerned if a colleague actively tried to hide knowledge from the rest of the team. It isnt healthy to the development of everyone else and increases the risk to the organization through a single point of failure.

    You can google Bus Factor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor for ideas on how to address this issue
    Philipp Eisbacher
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    Philipp Eisbacher

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    29 Jul 2013 11:29 AM
    The first question for me is: Why does the company want to change to scrum? Is there enough awareness at the involved persons that the change is important? It sounds the problem is not changing to scrum, I think the problem is changing.

    Also the invovlement of the CTO and the other management is not clear to me. Are they comitted to the change or do they only bring someone in the company and say: make it good?

    As I mentioned before, I think in your case it wont matter if you are changing to scrum or anything else, the change itself is the problem.

    There is a great book on this, but it is only in german (http://www.amazon.de/Scrum-Einf%C3%...enspraxis) but it is not translated yet and I don't know if there is a similar english book, at least I can't recommend one.

    But Kotters "Leading Change" is a good start (not scrum specific but I think there is no problem @ your scrum knowledge)

    Hope it helps.
    BR,
    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    29 Jul 2013 11:29 AM
    Hi Michael

    I fail to see how a company can fire people based on the metrics of burn-down charts. For one thing these charts relate to the team, not to individual developers. No one developer can be isolated for criticism on the basis of Scrum metrics. For another thing, burn-downs are not comparable between teams. Each chart will reflect that particular team's policy of requirements sizing and Definition of Done.

    The proof of success is in delivery. It's theoretically possible that an entire team could be fired if they consistenty fail to deliver increments of value, but (interestingly) that doesn't seem to be the concern here.

    As for keeping technical knowledge private, in order to make oneself more valuable, that's a strategy I've seen developers try before. However I've never seen it actually work. Ironically, it is the sort of thing that actually CAN get you fired. No developer will ever be allowed to hold a company to ransom because of technical debt. It may take a year or two, but that individual's days will definitely be numbered.

    Managers can get away with this kind of behavior longer, because they can use poor transparency to conceal their failings. They can even present organizational chaos as evidence of why they are needed, rather than as evidence of their failings. I think you should bear this in mind when approaching managers for assistance, as some may be reluctant to lend their weight for this reason.

    The CTO seems to be on board, so sound that person out for which other C-level executives are on-side. From what you say, I'm not convinced that agile transformation is recognized as a strategic initiative, though it seems fairly clear that it has to become one if the transition is to have any real chance of success.
    Michael
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    Michael

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    29 Jul 2013 03:03 PM
    Hello guys,
    I really agree with all of you guys (Radyhl, Philipp and Mitchell).
    Today I have discovered that the PMO manager is telling (behind the scenes) to the other PMs to not "waste too much time" with all this "Scrum stuff", even if in a meeting with the Managing Director, he agreed to collaborate and implement Scrum in his team as well.
    I am feeling so frustrated and exhausted, because I've been answering the same questions over and over again to the PMs, and now that I knew what their manager is telling to them I am feeling like they are fooling me and just continue asking me the same questions only for "pretending" they want to implement Scrum.

    Philipp, when the CTO explained the situation to me, he told me they have decided to implement Scrum, because they never had implemented a "real" methodology (neither waterfall), everybody got accustomed to work in such a chaotic way and obviusly this lead both teams to blame one to the other everytime the projects haven't been delivered on time or without meeting the expextations of the customers because there was a lack of clear or real requirements.

    It seems that for some reason, the manager of the PMO want to keep the chaos.

    Many times I am feeling like the CTO doesn't have wight enough in the company for making real changes and also that they just leave me there and say:make it good (as you said Philipp)

    How could a burndown chart could be use to fire someone? I really don't know as this never happened to me before. But what the developers told me is, as there would be a Daily Scrum, they feel that they have to "show" what they have done (yesterday) and what are they are going to do (today), so for them, this mean "we are controlling them because the company wants to fire them", even if I tried to convince them this is not what Scrum is used for.

    Do they are really committed to implement Scrum? I am not sure anymore. How can I tell the Managing Director that the PMO is playing this game saying "yes" to him, but doing the contrary with the rest of us without seeming that I have something against him?

    As you can see, my job is not easy at all, and many times I am feeling so lonely while trying to do my job (implementing Scrum) the best I can, the same way I did in the last five years and in different companies as well.

    Thank you for "hearing"!

    Philipp Eisbacher
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    Philipp Eisbacher

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    30 Jul 2013 01:15 AM
    Hello.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I read real passion in your posts blocked by an environment that sounds like full of fear. The first thing we should always consider in such a case is the Thomas Theorem ("If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.")

    Two things I would start with is, collecting as much concrete data and information on why they change from chaotic to any methodology. If it always worked great why should they change? Make it clear, transparent and visible what can happen when chaos is going on.

    During this, or a little bit after showing the first big problems of not having any methodology, form some kind of leading coalition with who ever is in a leading position (CEO, CTO... and also the manager of the PMO) to get their awareness once again and make a commited team to drive the change.

    Don't give them the answer (implement Scrum) only show them the problems and facilitate a discussion about how they want their company to work and how to get there. It seems for me like the company jumped over these steps and now is in trouble because they are missing this awareness.

    BR,
    Philipp
    JCALIMA
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    JCALIMA

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    07 Aug 2013 08:30 AM
    "Scrum is a framework for developing and sustaining complex products" and not project.
    Look for Prince2, it is a framework for project management and work very well with Scrum.
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