Monday, January 11, 2016

Globalization and a Scrum Master

Cold but keeping on.
Chicago in January, is an exercise in mental toughness.  I am sitting at my desk very early in the morning and it is single digits in Fahrenheit and deep in the negative in centigrade.   In spite of these difficult conditions, the tap water is still flowing and my house thanks to central heating is warm.  I am connected to the world wide web and each week day I communicate with my development team in India who live eleven and a half hours in the future away from me.  I live in the global economy and for good or ill it shapes my life.   This week on the blog I wanted to discuss what how scrum masters like us mean to that global economy.

One of the realities of technology is that it has increase the productivity of workers by a significant margin, the margin is so significant that wages have not kept pace with these increases.  According to Manfred B. Steger, in his book “Globalization: A Brief Insight,” this has created three visions of how the world economy works.  These visions are: market globalization, justice globalization, and jihadist globalization.  Agile and the scrum belong to the justice globalization vision of this new world.

The market globalization vision is pretty familiar to many of us in the United States.  It is dominated by notions of free-trade, economic neo-liberalism, and clear winners and losers.  Jihadist globalization is a rejection of those values.  It is a longing for “the good old days” whatever those were and can be represented by groups as diverse on the political left and right as ISIS and the militia groups occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  Justice globalization in many respects is a triangulation of these two paths.  It incorporates values from Occupy Wall Street, Amnesty international, The Agile Reformation, and the latest innovations from the social sciences.  Let me explain.

Instead of globalization having winners and losers, those into justice globalization, see beneficiaries.  From the Uber drivers picking up passengers, to the members of the corporate board room; all of them receive the benefits of the work done and a services provided.  Work is sustainable, efficient, and provides dignity.  If it seems a little Utopian it is because it is.  Not only does it require changes in how work is done on the corporate level which is what I think the Agile reformation is attempting to do but it is going to require changes in government policy and cultural perception.  It is not going to be easy and it is going to require the collaboration of many people.

So where does the scrum master come in to this world?  We are the ones enforcing the values and principles articulated in the agile manifesto.  We are the ones making sure that the work is sustainable and of a high quality.  We have to be the ones saying “no” to people in authority when they are asking nine people to make a baby in one month.  We make the phone calls when there are obstacles in the project.  Each day, a network of technology professionals exchange phone calls across the world making sure that everything is going well and keeping the wheels of commerce spinning.  We are agents of social justice and change.  We make it possible to do business in the cold nights of January and the warm month of August.  Not a bad calling, if you ask me.

So to be a scrum master is to throw your lot into the world of Justice globalization.  Not a bad place to be in the 21st century.

Until next time.