Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Where to start?

Some of us have been doing lean-agile-scrum for awhile now. And we forget that others are just starting.

So, where does one start?

The first answer is that you start from where you are. One thing this means is that one starts with the impediments one has today. And you use Scrum to help tell you "what is the biggest impediment today?"

And there is always a biggest one today. And it is hard to predict what will be the biggest impediment tomorrow. So many different things can be slowing down the team. So many things can come up in an instant.

Is it useful to work on a less-important impediment? Well, yes, but not nearly as useful as working on the top impediment. THIS IS IMPORTANT. We should always be working on the top impediment (presuming that it can be improved, or that 'they' will allow us to fix it).

Why should you start Scrum? (This gets to the core issue of starting with right intention. As any good Buddhist would want us to.)

Well, some people want a work life that is more fun. Some want to get rid of a bad manager. (BTW, I think very very few managers are 'bad', although I do think lots of managers have been taught badly how to do their work.) Some want money. These are all good reasons.

But I think the best reasons are phrased a bit differently: To make my life better, to make our team's life better, to make our customers' lives better. You will note how that starts from the center and moves outward.

And it raises a fundamental question: what does it mean to make someone's life better? This is a difficult yet important question.

I think it is bigger than software. And I think that important words, like freedom, love and self-responsibility, are in there. And working as a team and at the same time fulfilling oneself as a person. Perhaps we may say a connectedness that that makes us more individuals rather than less. (I am in eastern europe (Romania) as I write.) We do not join a collective to lose our individuality, but rather, seemingly paradoxically, to become yet more our own individual selves within the team.

Within the dualisms we are used to thinking in, this sounds a paradox. But it is the truer organic reality.

Learning how to do this can be painful, but, as the song says, and as every mother knows, a deeper pleasure is on the other side. (See http://www.metrolyrics.com/save-room-lyrics-john-legend.html for the lyrics, if you are interested. Good song too.)

One team recently was going through this pain. One wondered how long it would take. One wondered "will they get to the other side?" Still, one has confidence that people learn from scraping their knees.


Matthias Marschall said...

"Where to start?" is really a good question. Currently I'm seeing a team struggling with it.

I agree that removing the biggest impediment is a great thing to do. I achieved really good success with doing a value stream analysis. I wrote about it here. It helps to visualize the biggest impediment. Often, everybody has a very subjective few on what is the worst. The analysis helps to come up with an objective view.

Bob Marshall said...

Nice post. Making folks' working lives better is the driving force behind my involvement in the #Rightshifting movement, fwiw.

You have my support.

- Bob

Liz! said...

I'm currently working in QA on a project that is looking to use Scrum for the next Phase of development. I have been tasked with setting up the issue tracking system for this next phase, but I am having issues finding out how QA really fits into the Scrum Process.

Any advice or other references you could point me to would be greatly appriciated. Thank you.


Joe Little said...

Hi Liz,

I will respond with a blog post.