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How to deal with management

Last post 02:56 pm February 27, 2015 by ANUP BANERJEE
2 replies
05:54 pm February 9, 2015

One of the duties of the Scrum Master is screening the team and providing a balance between the management and the team. Do you have any advice how to deal with it? Deal with managers pushing to accomplish N items/features while the team is giving the the best, working late and delivering less than expected?
How would you answer to statement like that (it's about unpredictability in the software development):

The comment you mention make me feel scared - if you say the team of professionals that already worked on the same issue before can use very general statement "software development is unpredictable" I tend to doubt we are able to work on any of the new developments and deliver it on time (as team has planned and committed to deliver).

The situation it refers to looked like that: a year (or more) ago the team worked on some piece of software (don't remember how long did it take), this year the team started to work on moving it to new platform - everything looked good: before the sprint started, guys shortly discussed what is to be done there, at the planning meeting they continue the discussion and gave their estimates - week should be sufficient. While the work progressed it started to turn out the coding part is taking much longer than expected. The team started to cut out some less important functionalities (with PO involved), but even they worked late, they couldn't finish it by the sprint end.

08:41 am February 27, 2015

Hi Bartolomiej,

I don't have too much practical experience as Scrum Master, but here's my opinion:

- the Sprints should be set up in a sustainable pace. So the team shouldn't be wirking late.
- as we live in a complex world, no one can ever predict the future precisely (see also Jurgen Appelo's book "Management 3.0). To say otherwise is a lie.
- sometimes we have try to predict the future for making good decisions. In this case there are several estimation methods to help (e.g. planning poker). If bad estimates are a general problem for your company, take it to the team. Ask them, what they think of that could help them in estimating better. Maybe they could invest mor time in estimating, take it mor seriously? Maybe the refinement is insufficient so that there are unknown issues to the Product Backlog Items?

What do you think about it? What would you propose to do?

Best wishes,

02:56 pm February 27, 2015

Hi Bartolomiej,
I think such situation arises due to trust deficit. We blame management for being pushy and super ambitious. They deserve to be blamed most of the time but not always. Transparency is one of the important pillar in upholding empiricism. Scrum Master plays this delicate role by making sure, management gains trust of the team. This is not done overnight but is achieved over period of time.
How to achieve this?
1) Invite Management for Sprint Review. Make sure they understand their role
2) Management should talk to PO for scope of work or change in Scope and not to you or Team
3) Ask management to Trust the team as they are self organizing
4) Conduct a brown bag session with Management folks, they need training too. You are in best situation to train them and address their claim
5) Don't ask your team to work late, SM != PM, team is self organizing they organize their work.
Few people in management have a mentality where they want to drive super fast sports car called 'Agile/Scrum/Kanban', but don't understand that you need to 92 Octane premium Gasoline to make it run :p


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