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How to transform a guided team to a self-directed

Rainer Eschen
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Joined: Jan 24, 2009
Posts: 75
We are currently in preparation for Scrum. The most challenging to me is to transfer the team from a "tell me what I have to do" mind to a "hey don't tell us what to do" mentality. It is not only a question of software development/architecture or project management skills for the team, but primarily the demand for a "decide yourself" and "take responsibility for the bigger picture". Any suggestions for such a transfer?


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Mary Poppendieck
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Joined: Oct 04, 2006
Posts: 62
I'm not sure you want to change the culture so drastically that you give the team a feeling of "entitlement" - this a failure mode we have seen more than a few times. I suspect that you don't really want a "hey don't tell us what to do" mentality, you want a "we are able to figure out how to do this ourselves" mentality. This attitude is more likely to generate pride than entitlement.

There is security in being told what to do, and the risk of failure in figuring it out for yourself. So one thing to consider is what are the consequences of getting it wrong - at both an individual and a team level? What consequences would follow making wrong decisions? What benefits would be associated with making good decisions? What incentives does the current system give to people to make them interested in thinking for themselves? Are these incentives positive or negative? If people take on more responsibility, you have to make sure that also have the environment and guidance necessary to be successful. Otherwise they will be sorry they took on responsibility.

I think it's great that you are interested in getting the team interested in taking responsibility for "the bigger picture". But you do need to be sure that this is a good match for the culture. In some cultures, responsibility inspires, in others, not so much. Your really need team leaders who understand what motivates the people on their teams, so they can strike the right balance between responsibility and guidance. There is no one formula for this. The "tell people what to do" formula is no worse (or better) than the "leave people in a room alone and let them figure it out for themselves" formula. Both formulas depend on the context, the culture, and what needs to get done.

The lean frame has a bias toward the involved leader formula, where a leader provides guidance at the right level for the situation. But in this frame you need to develop knowledgeable leaders who understand both the job at hand (in detail) and also how to lead people effectively.


Mary Poppendieck
Author of Lean Software Development, Implementing Lean Software Development, and Leading Lean Software Development
Mohamed El-Refaey
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Joined: Dec 08, 2009
Posts: 119
I do agree that this is culture-based and according to lots of factor ... but what i believe is that all agile processes and development practices lead to empowering people, give them the courage to improve, refactor, take responsibility with the certainty that there is a roll-back point and reference for them, either in project development or the process itself.


Best Regards, Mohamed El-Refaey
www.egyptcloudforum.com
Mary Poppendieck
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Joined: Oct 04, 2006
Posts: 62
I do agree that this is culture-based and according to lots of factor ... but what i believe is that all agile processes and development practices lead to empowering people, give them the courage to improve, refactor, take responsibility with the certainty that there is a roll-back point and reference for them, either in project development or the process itself.


Yep, I agree, in a healthy environment, agile works exactly like that.
Mohamed El-Refaey
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Joined: Dec 08, 2009
Posts: 119
Exactly, this is true.
Rainer Eschen
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Joined: Jan 24, 2009
Posts: 75
Thanks for the listed questions. A lot of stuff still to think about.
 
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