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Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership Paperback – May 30, 2013
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About the Author
Geoff Watts is the founder of Inspect & Adapt Ltd and one of the most experienced and respected Scrum coaches in the world. Having started using Scrum at British Telecom, one of the first large-scale agile adoptions, he has since coached organisations large and small through their agile journeys.
An inspirational speaker at international conferences, he is at the cutting edge of the developments in the agile world. As well as his wealth of knowledge in the agile field, he is also passionate about promoting servant-leadership through his coaching practice.
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Probably the most common problem of all are Scrum teams are team members showing up late for Scrum. Watts describes such a situation in one of the chapters. In the team’s retrospective, the team did not directly confront the team member, instead they kept to general statements and working agreements like “we should be on time to Scrum.” The “right answer” according to Watts would have been for the team to directly confront the team member. I wish he would have gone into detail how THAT went over. In my experience, most people would act defensive or overly emotional (for Americans maybe? Ha!). The only times I’ve seen this go over well is when a team member accepts the criticism, and that kind of emotional intelligence is not common. What is common, in my experience, is a reaction of stink eye looks and zombie impersonation. On occasion, cuss words combined with sarcasm explode like a door slamming in the center of a black hole in the middle of the universe.
Watts makes an astute observation that I don’t see acknowledged often in other agile books; “...each person either blocked or helped the problem solving process, whether intentionally or not”. Heavens to Murgatroyd! Do you ever notice how often this happens in Congress? When this happened in my own team, I used Watts’ words to describe my observation “Knocking down another person’s suggestion makes them less likely to offer one in the future.” In practice, I discovered that the teammate “getting knocked down” felt supported. And the person with the “yes, but…” tried to defend their position as well but offered more the second time around. It was a good tactic.
What I would like to see more from Watts is how to deal with difficult team members. He does say that by “make a hole [remove the difficult team member], to make [the team] whole”. I agree with this, but it’s not that easy to vote people off the island and out of the sprint team. One, there are HR policies in place to protect rights on both sides, the company and the person, and second, sometimes management just does not agree that the person IS a problem, especially if the person is a rock star. I would like to see more tactics from Watts how he deals with the zombies, the vampires, the werewolves and all the other devil advocates that contribute to software development. Just because someone is difficult to work with, does not mean they can’t make a great contribution to team. What are some exact tactics?
If I was a Scrum Alliance board member, I would make this required reading before giving out Scrum Master certifications. And then I would make everyone write an Amazon review on it; not to prove that they read the material but to prove they thought about it. It takes thoughtfulness how to deal with people and teams. For example, how one personality responses to a question will not be the same as another. The permutations of outcomes can be numerous, outrageous, and that is why Scrum Masters must learn to be more than just courageous. They must walk confidence. This book is just one of many tools to make Scrum Masters, true Masters.