Developing Teams the Scrum (and Lean) way! by Lean.Org’s The Lean Post

I’ve been working on a collection of great blog posts about the Scrum Master role. If you have a favorite article on the Scrum Master role, or it’s goals and responsibilities, let me know by submitting it here:

Scrum Masters are key participants in the teams, and key contributors to the improvement of productivity in the organizations they work in. Even if the Scrum approach and Agile, in general, are very new (from late1990’s, early 2000s), there are other approaches that have been with us for nearly more than a century now.

One such approach is “Taylorism”. In that approach, the main premise is that “some people” know “what needs to be done and how” (the planner/thinker), and other people “do it” (the doers).

“Take it to the team”: a Scrum Master Mantra

Unfortunately, that Tayloristic approach has become prevalent thanks to the work of some early consultancies.

In Scrum, one of the most important changes to the world of work is that the “doers” are also the “thinkers”. This is one of the reasons why here on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we often say: “take it to the team”. In other words, anyone can raise an idea of improvement, but only the team knows what can/should be done to achieve the goal. Sometimes that team is the development team, sometimes it is the development team + stakeholders, but it’s “the team” that owns and develops the process of work.

This perspective is revolutionary for many, including many consultancies that still push “process improvement” à lá Taylor (you know which ones).

What’s better than Taylorism for developing our teams and organizations? 

That’s why I want to highlight this post in Lean.Org’s Lean Post blog: “Develop Your People Patiently Rather Than Rely on Super Taylorism”

As the article puts it: while the “west” was focused on separating the thinking from the doing, and using “Super Taylorism”,  “in Japan, Toyota was developing a different approach to strategy, one based on technical learning on the gemba through trial and error–a process that aimed to serve all customers with a broad product line of high quality and at the right price.”

Does that sound familiar? Scrum is exactly that kind of approach: “based on technical learning on the Gemba through trial and error”

Check out the post, and learn about the roots of Scrum and Agile. Don’t get stuck in a Tayloristic approach that leads to frustration, dis-enfranchising the team, and long term problems.

Help us grow as a Scrum Master community, share your best 2020 articles below.

SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Marton ‘Meza’ Meszaros on the essence of Agile

For Christmas week 2020, we have a special treat for you. Yves Hanoulle and I interview great Agilists and Scrum Masters that you will probably not hear from in your local Agile conference. 

These are people that are really pushing the state of the practice, and we want to bring their forward-looking, and hopeful ideas to you in our Christmas Special Week for 2020. 

Meza started as a programmer, but not with Agile. During one of his projects, he had to work with a custom language in an embedded system, and that led him to discover Extreme Programming and Unit Testing, but that was not yet the start of his Agile journey. That came later and for totally different reasons.

Leading Teams, and the need for Agile

As Meza took on more responsibilities, he understood that supporting teams in their work is a different problem than solving a technical challenge. He started reading more, and learning more about Agile to make sense of it, and finally had that “trigger” moment that helped him understand why Agile is so important. 

As a team leader, he recognized that he needed to focus on enabling the team’s success, instead of telling the team what to work on. That led to Meza starting to learn even more, and applying Agile in his work.

The problem with Agile adoption: shaping the people to the process, instead of the other way around

As Meza worked with more teams, he understood that his approach needed to change. Early on, he focused on the process, and helping teams adopt the process. But later, and after many challenges, he understood that the focus on helping teams (and using the process as a tool), requires a significantly different perspective: the process and the tools need to be shaped to fit the people, not the other way around. 

After all, Agile (and the Agile processes) are supposed to be there to enable better communication, collaboration, and a trustful environment. 

The books that Meza still reads even today

Combining his knowledge, and experience has been a thread in his career, and Meza shares a book that helps with exactly that: take advantage of multiple processes he learn3ed during his career: Scrum and Kanban, making the best of both by Henri Kniberg is the first book he mentions. But there’s a second book. 

As a programmer, Meza understood early on that the technical conditions set up for the team are critical for their success, so he mentions a book that helped him as a programmer: Release It! By Michael Nygard, a book that explores how to create systems that run longer, with fewer failures, and recover better when bad things happen.

The essence of Agile by Marton Meza Meszaros

In this final words on this episode, Meza shares what he considers the essence of Agile: to build trust, and how the trust-building processes are at the core of everything Agile.

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experiences: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!

About Marton ‘Meza’ Meszaros

CTO and architect with over 19 years of experience in web development focusing on code maintainable software delivery.

Currently working with incubators and startups, guiding them through the early stages. Hiring, building team structures from the ground up, assembling project management procedures, and best practices, providing technological options and insight with a hint of pragmatism is all part of my daily activities.

You can link with Marton ‘Meza’ Meszaros on LinkedIn and connect with Marton ‘Meza’ Meszaros on Twitter.

Ebenezer Ikonne suggests: Don’t offer if people aren’t willing to receive

Scrum Masters are very often people motivated to improve the way we work. That’s an asset, but it can sometimes turn into a handicap. Ebenezer explains what he learned from his earlier experiences as a Scrum Master, when he tried to help people that were not ready to be helped.
We refer to the Bonus Podcast episode with Bob Marshall, as well as to the book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

About Ebenezer Ikonne

Technology enthusiast. Change artist. Culture hacker. People focused. Helping organizations provide their employees with the most meaningful and fulfilling experience they could have while delivering solutions that change the world. Ebenezer is also a Tech Director at Mannheim.
You can link with Ebenezer Ikonne on LinkedIn, and contact Ebenezer Ikonne on Twitter. You can also read his thoughts on Agile on his blog.

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