Thursday, November 19, 2009

Agile coach, are you a meterorologist?

I'm learning the power of meteorology in my endeavors as an agile coach. As I influence the people in the organization I find that pressures are important.  Not pressures on individuals necessarily, but pressure zones in the organization itself.  

For example: I needed to find someone to fill  the Product Owner role for a business unit that wanted to start using Scrum. One of my ScrumMasters-in-training was worrying about finding the right person.  The conversation went something like this:

"What if we choose the wrong person?" he asked.
"Well, perhaps WE don't choose at all.  Perhaps we can get a volunteer.  It IS a hard role after all, and volunteers are better than conscripts."
"Ok, how do we do that?"
"Well, we are already creating a vacuum by spinning up Scrum Teams.  Let's produce a source to fill that vacuum, a pressure dome if you will."
He has a blank look.  "Uhm,  say what?"
I smile.  "Think of a weather map.  We have a low pressure system, spinning in place.  Let's build a high pressure system and move it close."
"Er, oookay.  I don't quite follow, but say we do; what will that accomplish?"
"We'll at least get some cool thunder and lightning."

We built a high pressure system by doing a series of Brown Bags on Scrum and the importance of the Product Owner role.  Some folks expressed interest in the P.O. role, and voilรก! We had a supply to fill our vacuum.
So embrace your inner meteorologist, ye agile coaches and mentors.

In the center of every real business problems stands a human

It occurs to me that often even we, the [in our own eyes] Enlightened forget that at the center of every real business problem stands a human.

We often find ourselves in target rich environments. We witness the waste, chaos, and misery around us and, because we wish to Deny Pain, we apply ourselves and/or our advice to targets that are second order effects, or worse, mere consequences.

One of the principles given us is, "Build projects around motivated individuals." Permit me to show my bias by stating the corollary, "Form Teams around motivated individuals." And who is more motivated than that human standing in the middle of that real business problem?

As men and women that focus on improving, we ache to have sponsorship for our ideas and notions. We yearn to have access to people that have the organizational power to turn those notions into action. I submit to you that one need look no farther than the humans mentioned herein.

It isn't necessarily the IT managers. It isn't always the CIO/CTO/CWhateverO. It is the line of business manger. It is the Operations Team Lead. It is the Mail Room clerk.