Scrum Gathering, Boston
The Scrum gathering in Boston took place over 3 days: a more introductory one day public session followed by two days of discussion workshops for experienced Agile practioners. On the first day I was thrilled to be asked to join Jeff McKenna and Diana Larsen on a panel discussing change.
Change was a good discussion topic for the gathering because of the paradox that so many people in our industry face: we are software development practioners not change agents, yet to develop software better we desire to change the organisations we work in.
While I am no expert in Organisational Development I do know that all the effective teams I have been part of - mostly Agile teams - became what they were through a process of positive change. (And in some instances - I am proud to say - change that I directly facilitated.)
Can we achieve positive change, starting from where we are, no matter how "low" our position is in the organisation? Absolutely! All changes start with ourselves - Be the change you want to see as Gandhi said - and when "They" seem to be part of the problem then changing our own viewpoint is always the start of a solution. (We may not always be aware of the positive effects that our new viewpoint or behaviour has, and the changes we set in motion may take longer to ripple out than we have the patience to hang around for, but they will still be there and others will still see them...)
The workshop group that I was part of in the 2nd and 3rd days - with Bill Wake, Marilyn Lamoreux, Dan Rawsthorne, Kate van Buren and others - used Appreciative Inquiry interviews to explore aspects of the change and transformation that Agile teams go through. The coaching and leadership role provided by a good Scrum master during this change was of particular interest to me, and we came up with these words to describe it (my editing):
An effective Scrum master facilitates the transition from a group of individuals into a team. This transition starts with the Scrum master acting as a role model and offering inspiration, and is completed by the team members themselves with their reflection, open communication, and a desire to turn new-found awareness into action. Through this cycle of self-actualisation teams create a more effective future where they can enjoy their work, honour their successes without bemoaning their failures, and collaborate more productively.
While this may sound as though change requires the intervention of an outside person, I don't accept that this is the only interpretation. At the level I have most experience working at - with individuals in a single team - I see the changes required to introduce Agile software development mostly in terms of uncovering more of what is already there. Achieving lasting personal growth by fulfilling a potential that has been unseen but that is ready and waiting to be unleashed.
So if you can see that potential within your team then you can start growing it yourself, today.