Thursday, March 28, 2013

Selling the benefits of Scrum

Two other CSTs (scrum trainers) made some comments in a Google Group, which got me thinking.  They reminded me of the following exercise I normally do in my Scrum classes.

Every class is different, but imagine a class that is mixed. Some people are new to Scrum, some have a few months experience, some have 9-24 months’ of experience.

And a recent experience makes me think I should modify the exercise. A bit.  I have to say explicitly: “If change is going to happen, you must ‘sell’ Scrum. In some sense of the word sell.”

I show a slide listing all the benefits of scrum.  ‘More Fun’ being one of the big benefits. In all, 6 or 7 benefits…
I then ask the class:
‘I need an estimate from you. Each of you.  A single rough percentage.  On average across all these factors.
If on Monday you start with one team, maybe your real team, and you get to work with them for 1 year, after all that you learn in this course and your hard work in applying it over 1 year, in removing impediments over a year — how much better will the Team be, after one year?
Using whatever weighting you want to use on these (pointing to the slide) 6 or 7 success factors.
So, George (first person) what is your number?’

And then I go around the room.

I get a wide range, sometimes.  Usually a bunch of low numbers.  0% (rarely), 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%…sometimes 80%, 100%, 150%, 200% (rarely).  As you might guess, almost always many more low numbers than high numbers.

Usually I end that segment with the Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

In the past, I have been asked to ‘sell’ in several different contexts. And it has usually made me uncomfortable.  So, why am I asking us all to sell now?

It is simple. Change makes people uncomfortable. Unless they see a real reason to change, they will not change. 

For example, the company culture will not change.

So, to get change to happen you must ‘sell’. In some sense of the word. And sell in a compelling way.

Now, I know from experience that the benefits of doing Scrum properly are tremendous. So, obviously, we want everyone to experience those benefits. But it starts, as John Kotter says, with a sense of urgency.  And that means we, who understand Scrum, must be continually ‘selling’.

Now, selling to me does not mean: fakery, lying, exaggerating, forcing people to listen, etc, etc.  By ‘selling’ I mean giving people a chance to have, or to have again, that sense of urgency for the change.

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