Mar 082010

Edit: This should properly be titled “Dispersion and Implosion in Teams.” See Tobias’ comment.

Exercise at ScrumGathering 2010: how simple internal models (“rules”) can have very different effects on team behavior.

In the first situation, each person has to use their “best friend” to protect themselves from their own “worst enemy.” (In this case, you “protect” yourself by moving so that your “friend” is between you and your “enemy.”)

Notice how the group fragments and disperses.

In the second situation, there’s one little change: each person has to protect their “friend” from their “enemy.”

Bit of a difference! The overall behavior is toward cohesion.

P.S. “Kids, don’t try this at home!” This exercise works because the participants agree to the rules. It does NOT imply that you can simply give people rules to follow and expect to get the desired behavior. Why not? Because people aren’t machines, that’s why not! :) The art of the team is, of course, in coaching and coaxing the teams such that the individuals experience a shift in their own “internal rules.”

Best Friend Worst Enemy

 Posted by at 1:30 pm
Apr 062009

Abby over at Haxr Chick cites Ken (Schwaber, co-inventor of Scrum) as comparing Scrum to a live-in mother-in-law who is constantly pointing out how you can improve.  Great post, and I like it.

But the discussion in the comments is just one variant of the many similar conversations I’ve heard about Scrum.  It goes something like this:

  • Neo: “Scrum is great, but we have to adapt it to fit our organization.”
  • Morpheus: “You must not adapt the Scrum framework.”
  • Neo: “Whoa.  Now you’re getting all religious on me.”

The whole point of “getting religious” about the Scrum framework is to detect when you are, ah, let me find the right extension to the metaphor here, drugging the mother-in-law rather than dealing with what she exposes.

If we can prematurely adapt Scrum to our situation, we have the freedom to adapt it such that we are comfortable within our dysfunction, rather than improving our dysfunction.*

Ken harps on 2 things to keep us from this pitfall:

  1. keep Scrum simple – 3 roles, 3 artifacts, 3 meetings, associated rules for each; and
  2. don’t adapt the Scrum framework (although adapting the process which you evolve around the framework is not only allowed, it is a must!)

By keeping Scrum simple, we reduce the temptation to tinker with it, and we reduce the amount we have to “interpret” it.  By keeping the framework constant, it gives us the same benefit as keeping rulers constant:  we get to adapt our behavior to improve rather than adapting the thing which exposes our behavior.  It would be some odd clothing made by a tailor who adjusted his measuring tape just to make me feel better about my 44″ waist.

But excuse me, I must be getting religious. :)

 Posted by at 1:29 pm