Monday, September 10, 2018

Each Scrum Master and Agile Coach Should Embrace the Weird.

Be Weird!
Being a scrum master in a large organization is filled with contradictions.  The scrum master is a servant leader for development teams with zero authority unless earned.  A scrum master removes impediments to progress and leads to continuous improvement.  It is a mission which often puts the scrum master in conflict with the organization they work.  People in the business see you as a misfit and weirdo.  I firmly believe this is a good thing and coaches and scrum masters should embrace their inner weirdo.

I kept thinking about how change is often promoted by the eccentric, weird, and outcast among us.  Allan Turning and Ludwig Wittgenstein are intellectual giants of the twentieth century.  One invents the concept of software development and computer science.  The other gave us the “Tractatus- Logico Philosophicus.” Our understanding of computing and language would never be the same thanks to these two people.

Both people were also profoundly weird.  Turning was a closeted gay man with a penchant for wearing a gas mask to ward off allergies.  He was also overly protective of his tea mug chaining it to a radiator.  Wittgenstein was weirder than Turning;  he quit university teaching to build a house for his sisters.  He claimed his book “Tractatus- Logico Philosophicus,” was the last book of philosophy anyone will ever need, and he also liked to pick fights with his contemporaries like Karl Popper. 

Today people like Turning and Wittgenstein would not make it out a Ph.D. program at a big ten college let alone be tenured faculty at a major university like Cambridge of the 1930’s.  The world of business has similar stories.  Bill Gates was a college dropout who could not complete his eagle scout when he was in high school.  By every definition he was a nerd, breaking into computer labs to get more time on mainframes.

I doubt a computer company or venture capitalist would give someone like Gates the time of day.  His elevator pitch would be too bland, his sweat-stained oxford shirts would not look professional, and what does a college dropout know about business.  The truth is Bill Gates is one of the countless oddballs, misfits, and weirdos who have moved business, technology, and society forward.

It is why when I saw this tweet from the Muppets I had a revelation.
Being weird is amazing.  Not living in the box others live in is fantastic.  Being able to speak truth to power because they do not take you seriously is fantastic.  Making changes which are crazy enough to work is terrific.  Being weird is a lonely path, but the friends you do make are amazing.

As a scrum master or agile coach, you are in a weird role doing weird things which the rest of the organization consider weird.  The truth is what you are doing is amazing, and you are going to be remembered with more fondness than the boring CEO who speaks in accounting jargon.

Go forth, be weird and be amazing!

Until next time.