Monthly Archives: December 2009

Getting Down to Business with Games

Over at InfoQ, Deborah Hartmann Preuss reports on the values of games for teaching the principles of Scrum. If youÂ’ve ever attended a Certified ScrumMaster or Product Owner course, chances are your instructor led the group to a deeper understanding of Scrum and agile principles by playing a game or utilizing an interactive exercise. ItÂ’s an effective strategy for communicating difficult-to-grasp ideas in a fun and memorable way and itÂ’s becoming increasingly common for agile education.

IÂ’ve played a number of games over the course of my agile and Scrum education. If youÂ’re responsible for teaching your team or others in your organization, here are a few helpful links thatÂ’ll give you some proof that games are, in fact, valuable and will provide a few ideas for games to try.

HereÂ’s CST Kane Mar on the Ball Point Game, which he learned from Boris Gloger: http://blogs.danube.com/scrum-trainers-gathering-24-the-ball-point-game

And hereÂ’s Katie Playfair of Danube Technologies arguing for the relevance of game-playing: http://blogs.danube.com/the-value-of-games-ingraining-the-intangible-in-an-audience

Agile Team Lead?

Mike Bria recently posted a story on InfoQ discussing how a group of agilistas are arguing for the creation of a new role within agile and Scrum teams called the “agile team lead,” designed to effectively replace the ScrumMaster and Project Manager positions. For purists, it’s hard not to be skeptical, especially considering the delicate balance of authority and responsibility that marks the composition of Scrum teams. But for the sake of entertaining the idea, the following criteria summarize the group’s ideas about the duties that agile team leadership entails:

  • “Continuous Leadership
    Understanding the team’s place in the organization’s goals, being a single point of leadership (for the team) and accountability (to stakeholders), building a “safe container” for the team to work within, growing trust and respect between team and stakeholders, and continuously improving team cohesion.
  • “Continuous Planning
    Ensuring the team become increasing capable of meeting their own established commitments, ensuring everything remain “big and visible”, manages metrics, making “the plan the bad guy” (as opposed to the people), and ensuring the “plan changes with demand/supply”.
  • “Continuous Execution
    “Monitoring/managing team velocity/throughput”, securing resources, removing and escalating blockages. Ultimately, “keeping flow, momentum and focus in the team”.
  • “Continuous Risk Reduction
    Identifying risks and making their “potential impacts big and visible to the right people”, ensuring risk reduction occurs, and quantifying risk management effectiveness.
  • “Continuous Improvement (Agile Coaching)
    Driving the “improvement of the overall Definition of Done“, sensing and drawing attention to performance breakdowns, facilitating team improvements in the right areas, and helping the team learn emerging practices from outside itself.”

Though several Scrum and agile practitioners have supported this idea, my favorite response belongs to CST Tobias Mayer, who states: “Creating a ‘role’ of team lead is the beginning of a slippery slope back to command and control, It is a cop-out, an excuse for not facing the real challenge of nurturing a leader-full team.”

I can’t help but agree. This role not only seems to disrupt the balance of power in Scrum and agile, but seems to be moving backwards—toward traditional management practices. I’m curious to know what you think. Would an agile team lead role solve problems at your organization or just create more? Let me know what you think in the comments.