Katherine worked as the director of metrics and measurement for a large division of a financial data provider. I had been told she was a supporter of the division's shift toward Scrum but that she had a few questions for me so that she could more effectively do her job of collecting process and product metrics. I have a natural interest in this subject, and such discussions are usually a great chance for me to learn something new I was looking forward to meeting with Katherine as a chance to discuss some creative, innovative metrics.

Was I ever wrong! Katherine had mastered the art of appearing to support the transition to Scrum while trying to hold onto the status quo. Three years prior to our meeting, software development within this organization had been characterized by missed deadlines and buggy software that didn't meet customer expectations. At that time, Katherine was the newly hired test manager. She instituted some new procedures that dramatically improved things. As a result, teams seemed to be meeting their deadlines (mainly because schedules were padded by what I considered astounding amounts) and quality improved (by creating a separate test group that would spend months testing after a product was handed over to them).

For her efforts in solving these problems, Katherine had been promoted and was now running what was essentially a project management office (PMO).As she told me more about her background and about how she had previously helped her company by introducing various process improvements, I was sure I had found an ally in transitioning her division to Scrum. Instead, what I found was someone who had built herself a very nice empire (through good effort directed at earlier company goals). She was now so enamored of her current status, the number of people reporting to her, and her level of prestige that she was unwilling to consider further changes. Moses could have come down from the mountaintop with the ideal process engraved on stone tablets, and Katherine would have resisted.

Katherine, like other diehards, was opposed to Scrum not because of anything inherent in it but because she did not want to let go of the current state. She was very actively resisting the change but always in ways that allowed her to claim to be supporting it.

A common technique of diehards, and one Katherine employed, is to stall the transition by controlling resources. This is possible because diehards are often found at the middle and upper levels of management where they have enough status to want to keep it. In Katherine's case, she controlled a shared pool of testers. This allowed her to harm the transition by profligately moving testers between projects. There were always plausible reasons: A critical project needed an additional tester, another project needed the expertise of a specific tester, and so on. Katherine's tactics had the effect of ensuring that no team retained the same personnel from start to finish and that many Scrum teams didn't have a tester for the first few sprints.

Many of the tools appropriate for overcoming the resistance of the saboteur will work with the diehard as well. Some additional tools you may want to employ with diehards include

• Align incentives. Diehards are tied to the status quo because of the benefits (either tangible or intangible) that it brings them. If you find a lot of resistance from diehards, consider all incentives that exist in the organization and make sure each aligns well with being agile. I am not referring solely to financial incentives. Nonfmancial incentives such as who gets promoted or otherwise recognized should also be reviewed. If having a large number of people reporting to you creates clout in your organization, for example, you shouldn't be surprised when people resist losing their direct reports.

• Create dissatisfaction with the status quo. Diehards like the status quo. They are not opposed to Scrum because of what it is; they are opposed to it because they like how things are. So, try to create dissatisfaction with the current state. I don't mean to go create a crisis, but if one looms, point it out. If market share is declining, make sure people know. If calls to tech support are on the rise, show people. If an industry newsletter recently heaped praise on a competitor's product, hang copies of the article where everyone can see them. This is consistent with the advice of Stewart Tubbs, author of a textbook on small-group interaction: "A prescient manager is always looking for ways for the organization to improve continuously. She or he is constantly on the lookout for ways to make the organization more effective, and looks to communicate these ideas as a way to generate dissatisfaction with the status quo".

• Acknowledge and confront fear. Diehards resist in part because of the uncertainty of what their jobs will look like with Scrum. They are usually very happy with their current positions. Fear of an uncertain future can be very powerful. How will my role change? How will I be evaluated? What will come next in my career? These are all powerful questions often in the mind of the diehard. If you know the answers and are in a position to give them, do so. If the answers are unknown, say so but commit—if you can and if you value the work of the diehard—to working with him to find the answers. You can also help calm these fears by clarifying what is expected not just of the diehard but of others with whom he may work.

In Katherine's case, her vice president (Christine) and I sought to find the right role for her in the new organization. We talked with her about our confidence that her past experience in guiding the company toward dramatic process improvements put her in a key position for helping the company again. Christine clarified Katherine's role in the new organization. Unfortunately, Katherine's sense of identity and self-worth were so tightly coupled to the process that she had helped put in place that she could not help the company move beyond it. In the end, she left the company.

Source of Information : Pearson - Succeeding with Agile Software Development Using Scrum 2010


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