Agile 2018

Agile 2018
Speaking at Agile 2018

Monday, June 29, 2015

When it all goes wrong, keep it together.

Bad things happen to good
Scrum Masters
A software developer is an odd creature.  We see ourselves as artists and professionals.  At the same time we can be childish, lack an internal filter and be less than professional.  This week I wanted to talk about what to do when it all goes wrong.  I have a lot of experience in this area.

Software is a creative process.  You receive some vague guidelines from a business person and then you have to transform it into a website or app which makes that business person happy.  Often it becomes a farce, as the business person says that what was created is not what they wanted and to try again without telling the software developer what they want.  This is one of the reasons software developers get so prickly.  They work very hard for people who don’t understand what they want.  Add to this mix time pressures and individuals who don’t understand what it means to develop software and you get a toxic stew of dysfunction.

As a scrum master, you are going to be in situations where it is all going to go wrong.  It has only taken me two years being a scrum master but I am beginning to understand that when everything goes wrong you need to be the focus of stability when everything goes wrong.  The reason why is that in a chaotic situation, the person who has his act together is going to be the person giving orders when people are in need of direction.  If you panic you can bet that the people you are leading are going to start panicking.

This is not an easy thing for me because I am ball of neurotic energy.  I get angry easily and I don’t tolerate foolishness very well.  I also have difficultly being diplomatic when I am dealing with people who are untrustworthy.  That said learning to work with your emotions is an important thing and the best that you can do is control and channel them the better.

Is it easy? No, this is one of the hardest parts of my job.  I have to work on it every day and if I slip for just an instant I become a puddle of rage.  The good news is that it is getting better and my scrum teams are grateful as a result.  So if you are scrum master when everything goes wrong, try to keep it together.  The team and the project are counting on you.

Until next time.