Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Micromanaging With Scrum

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On Sunday, Mike Cohn wrote a blog entitled Ssssh.....Agile Is All About Micromanaging. In the article he states that "agile is about micromanagment, but it’s about the team micromanaging themselves and for their own benefit." The article could not have come at a better time, since my very own team and I have engaged in a few discussions about this very thing.

In one of those conversations, I stressed the importance of the team and the responsibility of each member to ensure user stories are done on-time and with the highest quality. To accomplish this, members should check progress against estimated time and sign off on any completed work. Tasks and user stories would require all members approval before moving on, which means tasks are held to the highest standard of the team.

The response to this suggestion was positive, but some felt uncomfortable about confronting other members when things are not going as planned. Instead, they preferred that the Scrum Master (manager) take that responsibility. I understand the hesitation, but having served in a self-regulating team, it only took one or two conversations from the team to get most people on board. On a few occasions the team took the issue to higher authority, but that was very rare.

As the Scrum Master (manager) for Web Services at North Carolina Central University, my interest is in the completed project. With the customer's assistance, I identify the specifications, time line, and priorities, but leave the how it gets done to the team. Should there be any impediments, my role is to help remove those stumbling blocks.

To my managers, Scrum Masters, and leaders, how do you handle delegation? What is your view on micromangement by self-regulating teams? I would love to hear your feedback.

Until next time...

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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