May 16

Kick them out

biteYears ago I attended my first ever Scrum course. I was to become a Scrummaster and in front of me was the insightful and powerful Jeff Sutherland. Everything he told us was grand and fantastic. I listened to everything he said and loved it. But there was one thing that kept me thinking for years. Someone in the audience asked what to do when some employees within the company are not willing to work with Scrum or, for that matter, change the way they do things. His simple, short and sharp answer was “kick them out”. Laughter and agreement from the questioner and the audience, and with that the question was done. But it kept me thinking. It is not that simple I always said from that moment on. And it is probably an American thing to just simply lay someone off who does not agree with your business decisions I thought and that in Europe we don’t do that. But is this true. Do we always have to bend to people within a company who simply don’t want to follow or adapt. I like people to lead but towards a better way of working and thinking, but that’s me. But in basic, you have set a new way of working within your company and it would be great when everybody can see the light en embrace it’s manners. But what to do with the few who won’t.

You can explain them why it would be a good idea. You can show them the way. Ask them to try in the hope that the virus will catch on. But in the end when you have tried everything and depleted all your coaching skill with the. And their behavior is even starting to crumble the freshly laid fundaments you are trying to build. In the end you just might have to let them go. Is that so bad or strange. I don’t think so. If you come to think of it. Incorporating Scrum is not that different from any other change within the company. The new rule that people no longer can wear shorts in the office will go without or a little argument. The fact that people are no longer allowed to park their car in front of the office but have to go across the street. Hey they may not like it but will understand. Even the fact that certain software is used or everybody works on an Apple or no smoking is allowed within the office is easily accepted. If people don’t want to follow those rules, they can leave. Not that crazy right. So why, if a company is willing to change for the better of the people and the process, it is not done to get rid of people who go against the flow. Who basically are trying to kill the framework and therefore possibly your company. Why is that all of a sudden tolerated. Yeah sure, Scrum is just a hype. But so was the internet, the bike and the car. We all know it takes time. But as with these last three examples and there are probably many more, Scrum is not a hype. It is a change. And one of the first that actually looks at how people think and interact. It’s a bit like biting the hand that feeds you. If it is bitten too hard, a punch in in order. If it is bitten repeatedly, it is back to vet. And if the dog is lucky, it is just its balls that are on the line. But don’t be gently. We are in the business to get things done and to be honest, earn money. Right. So act like you want to keep on doing that. This does not mean that you have a sort of shock and aw everyone like Jeff would like it. But you don’t have to be gently either. Take is seriously and tighten the reigns or you might end up with just a few tattered socks and an angry biting dog that won by leaving your company in shatters.

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  • lilysonherway

    Jeff taught my class too. 🙂 Agile, when done right, is successful because of the PEOPLE. It’s not Scrum, it’s the values and the principles. Scrum helps people learn to apply it. When there are a few who resist against many who adapt, learn and grow I would imagine those who are resisting will eventually tap out. People always have a choice. In everything. They can opt in or out. On a team, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a team member to get kicked out if the team thinks it’s the right thing to do. Not immediately mind you. I would expect a team to work with someone but, there comes a time when there’s too much energy being spent on one person in a team or out. Generally, when I hear “SCRUM doesn’t work”, my first question is about the culture and the people. It’s not that Scrum didn’t work. It’s that people didn’t shift their minds.