Be a Virus

Through this transformation journey, I have had the opportunity to interact with and train many teams.  Some team members are brand-new to Agile.  Others have “been there and done that”.  My main goal with any audience is to be a virus.  I want to infect them with the enthusiasm I have for Agile and hope they infect others in turn.  I hammer on the concepts of self-managing and empowered.  I give examples.  They ask me how to solve problems and I put the control and the solution creation right back into their hands.

At the end of my time with these folks, invariably, I’m asked “I hear you.  I believe you.  Do others?  Do my managers?  Do their managers?”  I have to be honest in my response and the answer is:  Not Yet.

I then go on to encourage them to challenge the status quo.  Walk the walk.  And all kinds of other optimistic yammering.  If self-managing, self-organizing and empowered teams are a foundation of a highly-performing Agile team why, then, is it so difficult to allow it?

I can think of a couple reasons:

1.  Managers don’t know what their place is if this concept should become reality.

2.  Teams had tried, multiple times, and been beaten down.

3.  Not enough has changed around them to lead them to believe anything is really and truly different.

I’m sure some of this goes back to the culture shift and not paying enough attention to it but, not every organization can get it right with culture off the bat.  So, I’m back to the grass-roots effort of training and being viral.

In every class, I can spot the people who really get it.  I can see their understanding.  They nod.  They challenge.  They ask questions.  They begin answering the questions of others.  Ah, my little lovely germs.  You will help spread this, first, in your own team and others will soon be infected.

If you have a few brave souls willing to “walk the walk”, the team will be a degree closer and so will the organization.  I’m realizing that small, little degrees of change are so much better than no change at all.  It’s like change requests in a waterfall project.  Individually, they’re no big deal.  Collectively, they’re overwhelming and will crush your best-laid plan.

As a Scrum Master, I should add ground zero to my resume.  All Scrum Masters should.  Infect your team members.  Protect them and make it safe for them to “walk the walk”.  Make it so no vaccine can possibly crush an empowered team member.

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