I recently met with someone at a mid-size software company with multiple product teams. They are transitioning to more agile processes and are still in the evaluation process. The teams are each co-located and relatively small. Management is supportive, and even the CEO is on board. So you’d think this will all go swimmingly. But then, I was told the person to manage this transition will need to be a Drill Sargeant style manager. That’s when the alarms went off…
One of the core tenets of agile development is that the teams are intensely collaborative, self-managing, and empowered to achieve sprint goals. Management provides the strategic goals, infrastructure, and a productive environment. They can monitor progress by watching the burn rate, quality metrics, and feedback from the ScrumMaster and product owner. But overall, management should not be down in the weeds with the team. Actually, part of a ScrumMasters role is to shield the team from outside influences during sprints.
A drill sergeant’s job is to turn boys into soldiers. Agile development works on the principle that adults will do the right thing when working together and are empowered.
What will happen with this philosophical disconnect?