Monday, February 1, 2016

Laquan McDonald can teach us something about scrum.

They look cute until they undermine your efforts
One of the hardest things for a scrum master to do is lead organizational change.  For example, showing developers how to do SOLID development and test driven development is not enough.  The developers should see the utility of what they are doing and be compelled to practice it.  If your development team refuses to follow your lead you are stuck.  This week I wanted to discuss what happens when institutional needs meets resistance from the front line employees.

There has been plenty of news in the press about the killing of Laquan McDonald.  The young man was carrying a knife and walking away from a police officer when he was shot 16 times by a Chicago Police officer.  Video footage of the police officer using lethal force on McDonald was caught on a dash board camera in a police car.  The audio for the event was lost because the microphones were either disabled or broken.  McDonald’s death has sparked protests and calls for the mayor of the city to resign and has made the election of the attorney general a wide open race.

What is not being said in all this protest is that police officers have been wearing body cameras and using dash board cameras for roughly five years.  The shooting of McDonald also included a three year effort by the city to prevent the video footage from reaching the public until a judge gave the order during the December of 2015.  So on the one hand you have efforts to make the police department more accountable and on the other the information is suppressed by self-interest by police, politicians and prosecutors.

Currently, news has surfaced that eighty percent of the dashboard cameras and body cameras have the audio feature disabled on them.   There is a great deal of doubt as to whether this is because of tampering among police officers or poor maintenance; either way the optics look very bad.

So you have a government which wants to make the police force more transparent and cut back on the use of deadly force in communities and you have a the members of the police force with equipment which does not make that happen.  There is a lesson here for the scrum master.  If you are going to institute change then that change needs to be embraced from the bottom up rather from the top down.  Otherwise, you will be confronted with sabotage, monkey-wrench efforts, and stonewalling.

It is a shame that it takes a dead kid and embarrassing headlines to make that point.

Until next time.