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DFW Scrum Message Board › Management is not necessarily evil

Management is not necessarily evil

Tony P.
user 84996032
Irving, TX
Post #: 1
I thought I would offer up the interesting topic from tonight that our break out group ended on. I posed, and we did not fully answer, the question of whether or not what we expect as Agilists from traditional management would not , out of necessity, change in fundamental ways. The group answered that nearly rhetorical question with a yes, but we did not clearly address whether the loaded phrase "management" might not cause more harm than good. Being the pendantic word curmudgeon that I am, I believe that the words we use to classify the world around us matter a great deal and affect our subconscious in profound ways. So, I pose the question again, do we really want to call it management? Is Agile Management an oxymoron?
Lance D.
Group Organizer
Irving, TX
Post #: 117
Great question! I understand your question to be "how can we manage Agile if Agile is all about the team?" First, I always like to be clear, teams are self-organizing (not self-directed or self-managing). They are to be given the latitude to solve their problems within the boundaries that management has set (if those boundaries intrude on software delivery and the process of Scrum as a whole, then yes, we should raise that to management's attention).

I believe however that the question is missing on key term (being the word curmudgeon that you are LOL). Is what we really mean that we need someone to manage the Agile Transformation? I believe large companies do need focus in the sense of translating what the teams are doing into the the visibility agent that the company is most comfortable with (at least to start) and then you start chucking away at all the organizational problems. The point is you have to start somewhere and then begin your track on continuous improvement.

So I believe there is a need in larger organizations to manage the Agile adoptions, training, evangelism et al, but I don't believe that Agile Management applies to the process we use. Agile is a set of ideals and principals that guide the various processes that are...Agile. Scrum itself is a process and isn't it interesting that Scrum really is all about micro-management. The difference is simply who is doing the micro-managing, in the case of Scrum, we allow the team to do that.
David U.
user 10079140
Flower Mound, TX
Post #: 5
Ahhhh, it's about the words. Self-Organization = Self-Management. A team manages itself. However the management structure surrounding the team has a critical role to play but it's not in "directly managing" the team. They should turn into "success enablers" but I've seen way too many teams affected negatively by a Manager who wants to take on the role of an Architect, Code Reviewer, etc. to keep their "hand on the tiller" which usually means moving in such a way as to direct the team (move the tiller) from within while not violating self-organization.

I would also add that this is one of the most difficult parts of being a Scrum Master. To have the cojones to protect the team even from their own managers. This is not an enviable position and requires great explanatory, facilitation and even empathy.

I like Lance's description that Agile Management really applies to the Agile Adoption, training, etc. and not to the processes or practices teams use to deliver working software.
Tony P.
user 84996032
Irving, TX
Post #: 2
Great remarks. I certainly agree with what you are saying here Lance. You got right to the crux of semantic issue I wanted to discuss. I would go one step further and suggest that as a part of an Agile adoption, we should have a new word to replace management. I don't care what the word is...maybe "grapefruit" that it is clear we are changing our paradigm.

As a Scrum Master who is laboring with developing adequate cojones, your remarks hit home with me as well David. I've got a double whammy because most of my team reports indirectly to my own manager. As does our product owner. The protective aspect can get very difficult indeed. I worry about being viewed as insubordinate all the time. I've had to make some difficult choices at times, but ultimately, I've decided to put my team first.

Bottom line is, for me at least, I think Agile gives us a lot of great semantics, but I wish it had more help to offer on this one. Sure, the answer is education, but if you are radically changing thinking, these "small" semantic hurdles are actually quite huge.
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