Friday, July 26, 2013

Why a ScrumMaster Might Lie

One question I ask in working with new groups or retrospectives is how far away is everyone now from where they were born. If we're talking about self-organization, I can ask the team to line up in that order, and watch the interactions go.

It's surprising to me how little we know about the teams we work with. That knowledge we gain, with sometimes only minutes of talking, pays dividends in a more trusting, productive working relationship and environment. 

I worked with one Project Manager turned ScrumMaster, and he was struggling with a decision the team wanted to make that he didn't agree with. He even went so far as to tell the team that their Director wanted it the ScrumMaster's way, which turned out to be not true. Not very good servant leadership. Management wondered if we needed to pull this guy out of the ScrumMaster role, for he had been an effective project manager, from what I understood. 

Then one night I ran into the ScrumMaster at Chili's and we shared a meal. In the course of that hour, I learned how he had come from a powerful Middle Eastern family. He was the eldest son and had high expecations put on him, a burden that he seemed trying to meet, thousands of miles away from his family, through work performance. All these details helped me see a fuller picture of this man who had been raised to make things happen and carry the full burden of responsibility himself. 

In this case, the struggle wasn't about Scrum, it was about a new personal definition of success and learning to trust. I would never have changed my coaching approach had I not stumbled across this new perspective of my teammate. 

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