Agile 2018

Agile 2018
Speaking at Agile 2018

Monday, August 22, 2016

I Can't Believe I was Being this Dumb

I can learn a few things from this guy.
A scrum master is a leader without any authority.  They are someone you follow because they help you become a better developer and help you finish projects in a timely manner.  It is not for everyone.  I spend much of my time in self-reflection and attempting to improve my skills.  I also have to control my autocratic and curmudgeonly nature when I am dealing with individuals who are not pulling their weight.  On twitter, I had an interesting interaction with someone I respect in the user experience field Gail Swanson and I think there are a few lessons to be shared.

Like many of us, she uses twitter as a place to vent frustrations, test out ideas and share knowledge.  I respect her and follow her because she has plenty of things to say about being a good user experience person.  Then she shared this on twitter.

I responded with the following
Finally, Angela Dugan chimed in and she might as well have dropped a mike.

It took some time for this to sink in but it dawned on me that words and behaviors matter.  What I consider being respectful to my developers comes off as condescending and superior.  How I spoke to them effected their performance and it need to change right away.  I was being dumb.  So now, I use the terms “everybody”, “team” or “folks” to refer to the people I am working with.  I was doing something dumb and it took people I respected to point it out to me.

A contemporary scrum master has to interact with numerous people.  They work with off shore teams and on shore teams.  They are mixed by gender and religious affiliation.  I have Sikh, Muslims and Hindus working for me off shore.  On shore, I deal with evangelical Protestants, Neo-Pagans and Atheists.  What unites all of us is that we know how to code and that we are working on the same project.  I as the scrum master need to respect these cultural differences and keep everyone focused on the end goal.  My personal feelings or prejudices need to called out and controlled if I am going to guide these individuals to their goal.

It also means that the macho cruft that you see in software development needs to go away.  I am fortunate enough to work at an organization where women are incorporated into all of the development teams.  I think that has improved the development teams.  The testers, technical leads, developers, and QA people who are female are regular members of the teams and because of their skills have earned the respect of their male colleagues.  For our organization, diversity produces better results.

So there you have it; a scrum master needs to change and adapt.  The increase of off-shore development and the number of woman in the profession, has made me confront some of my own prejudices and make changes. I hope others can learn from my example.  I am just trying to be a better scrum master and guy.

Until next time.