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What would have been your approach?

Last post 12:42 am July 28, 2020 by Mark Adams
2 replies
04:07 am July 26, 2020


Please have a look into the following scenario. I would like to understand you views/suggestions on this.

A company was born in waterfall age. One day, people at top decided they should become agile. They changed the designations of managers, ask them to complete ‘participation-based certification’ and after one year declared victory over waterfall. As per the company website, Agile earned material benefit for the company. However, how they do things that never changed. Then there comes a senior scrum master (SSM) who joined after the ‘victory over waterfall’. When the SSM observed things, found tons of anti-patterns (like micro-managing, fact-finding meetings, purposefully dismantling self-organizing teams, fear based culture etc.) and started educating leaders how renaming things can’t earn benefits of scrum. The middle management was uncomfortable with the proposed changes and decided to throw out the SSM. They replaced the SSM with a project coordinator with new title senior scrum master. The new SSM is good project manager and started micro-managing the scrum masters and their team. Management is very happy with the new SSM. But the scrum masters are suffocating.

Question is: What the scrum masters can do here? Fight or flight? If they fight, they will be booted out. If they fly, market is not vibrant now. Shall they just swim with the current and forget all those scrum values that they are supposed to embody? If you were there as one of the scrum master what you would have been your approach. BTW I’m one of the scrum master there.

Thanks for your time.



08:16 pm July 27, 2020

Scrum requires courage and a low tolerance for organizational impediments. Yet at the same time it is necessary to "meet clients where they are". A client who replaces you for someone more malleable cannot then be helped, although it also presents you with an opportunity to invest your time and effort elsewhere.

My advice is that every Scrum Master ought to decide for themselves how low is low in terms of how "intolerant" they are prepared to be concerning organizational impediments. This is a very personal decision since it presents personal risk. No generalization can really be made. For example, I can more or less roll with the punches of being fired, but depending on their own situation, it may not be quite so easy for others.

12:42 am July 28, 2020

I'm going to give you a pragmatic answer. But it's for you to decide.

Can you afford to quit and look for a contract or a full-time position in the middle of the zombie apocalypse we're living through? If you can, good luck with trying to find a company that is being Agile, instead of doing Agile. Most leaders don't have a clue what business agility is. They attend a conference, hear that a company is doing well and just happens to be Agile, and they point to it and say "I want that."

If you can't afford to lose your job, do the best you can with Scrum within the boundaries of what your management wants to do. Take opportunities to evangelize the teams you work with. Schedule workshops, teach-ins, skills-share, team-building exercises, etc.

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