Don’t muck with the board!

As a former Project Manager I’m used to fixing things.  I want to make things easier, better and have a happy team.  As a Scrum Master I’ve had to shift my mind-set.  I want the team to see things that might need fixing and fix it so they will be an efficient, higher-performing and a happier team.  About a year ago, I was asked to come and coach a team that had been up and running for a while.  I figured it would be easy-peasy.  HA!

The team was not running Agile at all.  Their managers wouldn’t let them.  I observed them and wondered to myself how on earth I could influence the managers and help the team.  I knew it would take time, so I was prepared to be patient.  That said, there was one little thing I observed which I thought would make things a teensy bit better.  The team used stickers to denote which cards on their board belonged to which role type.  Remember, they aren’t Agile.  They had a project coordinator who did their daily burn down and the stickers made the cards get stuck together and her life miserable.  I had the brilliant idea to use the magnets which were the same colors rather than the stickers.  So, I made the change.

The team didn’t understand Agile, but they sure understood empowered.  Boy did I hear about it!  And, my initial reaction was one of shock.  I mean, what’s the big deal switching stickers for magnets?

Fast forward to a month ago, a team was furious with a coach telling them how their board should look and be arranged.  One of the team members used to be on one of my teams and was venting to me about it one day.  My reaction was horrified.  How could a Scrum Master, or a coach for that matter, tell the team how their board should look?  The team makes those decisions!

After some reflection, I ended up going back to that other team and apologizing even though it had been months since I had worked with them and even longer since magnetgate.  The team decides how.  If it’s not broken for them, and even if it is, don’t fix it.