Why is that guy still here…?

It’s Not the Person, It’s the Process

A while ago, I over heard a product owner voicing his displeasure with a team member by asking, “Why is that guy still here?” Initially my adrenaline spiked as the pressure in my head grew. In my earlier years, I would have given a very loud speech asking “if you know so much about programming, why don’t you show everyone how its done!” After more than a few harsh debates that ended in lots of ill will, I’ve learned to quickly gain some distance and dig into the real problem. It’s not the person, but the process.

I’ve lived much of my adult life in Europe and have gotten to know more than a few dedicated artisans. Among them are bakers, butchers, millers, brick layers and a whole lot more. Many of them have earned their “Masters Letter”. From this lot, none are sloppy or disrespectful of their trade. The same applies to the developers, database and software architects and QA engineers I have grown to admire and appreciate. Questioning their dedication diminishes morale, contributes to high attrition rates and often poor quality products. Accusations and arguments lead no where.

Continuous Improvement

You’ve got to dig into what caused the dissatisfaction. I’ve discovered it can be as “mundane” as using the wrong color or putting a button a few pixels too far in one direction. I’ve also run into more serious issues such as an obvious misunderstanding of the business for which a solution is being developed. No matter how you feel about it, embrace the problem with the seriousness in which it was communicated. Inspect the quality of your backlog grooming and Sprint Planning meetings. Look at your stories and ensure they are clear enough for a solution to be created and that the definition of done is defined so a pass/fail test can be run. Become intimately familiar with both the business your team supports and the application your team is developing or maintaining. Note what you’ve discovered and take those thoughts with you into the Sprint Retrospective.

Leverage the Community

If you come up empty, leverage the power of the Agile Community.  I have yet to discover a problem that someone else has not encountered. A simple Google search may be all that is required. Check Amazon or Audible for books covering your issue. Work through a Scrum Master Checklist. Subscribe to podcasts. Join LinkedIn groups. Attend Agile events in your area. Attend meet-ups. Become actively involved in your local Scrum and Project Management community. If a meet-up or LinkedIn group does not seem to be the right one, don’t give up. Keep looking. You will eventually connect.

Kaizen is a Lifestyle

You can’t expect your teams to improve, if you are not continuously improving. Thinking back on those dedicated artisans I mentioned earlier. All of them, were relentless in their pursuit of perfection. Knowing full well they would never achieve it, they realized the pursuit of that goal is the actual objective. Your teams will mature as you mature. The quality of their work will improve as you improve at becoming a better Scrum Master and servant leader. It’s a lot to expect from one person, but I know you’re up to it, because you are in fact a Scrum “Master”.

Additional Resources


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