The All Mighty Change Agents

The All Mighty Change Agents

Imagine the following situation.

Like many other couples, you have problems in your relationship, and you decide to go to a couple therapist.

After listening to your situation and asking several questions, the therapists says she is going to go to live with you in your place. She is going to go everywhere with you: to the supermarket, to the school, … She is going to cook with you, visit your family and participate in events with your friends.

She says, she will be providing feedback and organizing some sessions to review behavior and detect opportunities for improvement.

Probably, you are already running after a few sentences, thinking this therapist is crazy.

Well, this is exactly the same situation in most companies with Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters. Organizations delegate on them the responsibility and leadership of continuous improvement, instead of developing this capability internally, led by management.

This creates a dependency on the external agent. Like a drug addiction, the more you take the more you need. Eventually, the capability is no longer in the organization and you completely depend on the consultant.

We see this pattern very much in many companies going Agile. There is this dependency as a company to external consultancies bringing scrum masters and agile coaches, and also from a team perspective with regards to the Scrum Master.

For reasons that escape to my understanding, unlike any other industry, Agile industry has exalted the figure of the Scrum Master and Agile Coach to become the all mighty full-time change agent and agile expert sitting with the team and patronizing business owners and executives.

We believe, however, that like any other craftsmanship, as an engineer, developer, manager or product manager you need to master the techniques, but also the processes, and strive to continually improve. You cannot delegate that responsibility to anyone else.

We think “Hell’s Kitchen” approach, works much better.

The external consultant, even if it belongs to the organization, should train and coach executives and managers, help the team and their manager to understand lean and apply continuous improvement, and then go somewhere else. And, come back from time to time.

That is the approach we use in Kanban, Lean and professional team coaching. You don’t have a team coaching sitting all day with a team for several months. I doesn’t work like that. And, I shouldn’t work like that with Agile, either.

This approach is better for the long-term of the organization, because the learnings stay in the organization and it is cheaper too.

There exist many awesome agile product teams without scrum masters or agile coaches.

Next sin, Lack of Leadership.

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