Thad had no choice but to adopt Scrum. His company had been acquired and was being told by the new owners to begin using Scrum immediately. This wasn't a direction Thad would have chosen himself, and he had serious concerns about it. Would the daily scrums add value, especially with a product owner who worked from her home 600 miles away? How could a new product as complicated, large, and novel as theirs be done without a lengthy up-front design phase? He could see the value of iterating through the construction phase, but surely an up-front design was still needed.

Thad was a skeptic. I knew this from his willingness to admit that Scrum was fine for other domains, technologies, or environments—-just not his. Thad openly acknowledged the appropriateness of Scrum for web development but questioned it for his company's scientific applications.

As the most experienced member on his team and one of the longest-tenured developers in the organization, Thad was an opinion leader. Others looked to him to see how he would behave under the mandate to adopt Scrum. Thad exhibited a healthy amount of doubt; people should not be expected to change how they work without the opportunity to ask hard questions or be expected to fully embrace Scrum until they've worked on a Scrum team and experienced the benefits for themselves. Thad's uncertainty, however, went beyond doubt to the point where he was resisting the transition in small but important ways.

Because he didn't see the benefit of daily scrums, Thad consistently pushed to skip them. At the end of one meeting he said, "It sounds like we're all on stuff that will take at least today to finish. So let's skip tomorrow's daily scrum and just meet again the day after. Every other day is probably good enough anyway." Sometimes his ScrumMaster could successfully counter these arguments, but not always. After all, the ScrumMaster was new to Scrum, too.

Additionally, like many skeptics, Thad would sometimes claim to support a Scrum practice but would then continue to work as he always had. For instance, he said that he supported working iteratively and claimed to understand the value of having a potentially shippable product at the end of each sprint. In truth, though, Thad didn't believe that all parts of their product could be designed, coded, and tested within a single sprint. Consequently, he habitually pushed the team to bring more work than it could handle into each sprint. Overcommitting was his way of making sure that some features were worked on over at least two sprints.

Some of the tools that are useful in overcoming the resistance presented by skeptics include

• Let time run its course. If you can keep the transition effort moving forward, evidence of the benefits of Scrum will start to accumulate. Even if this evidence is merely anecdotal, it lessens the amount of resistance a skeptic can put up.

• Provide training. Some of a skeptic's resistance is a result of not having done something or not having seen it done before. Training—whether formal classroom training or as provided by an external coach brought in to work with the team—helps by giving the skeptic the experience of seeing firsthand how it can work.

• Solicit peer anecdotes. If you've never experienced something yourself but your friends or those you relate to have, their personal stories will resonate with you. If there are Scrum success stories from other teams in your organization, make sure the skeptics hear them. If Scrum is new to your organization, invite experienced agile outsiders in. Inviting a local software architect to speak at lunch about her company's success with Scrum will do wonders in persuading your own skeptical architects.

• Appoint a champion skeptic. In their book Fearless Change, Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising suggest designating someone as the company's "champion skeptic" (2004).The champion skeptic should be influential, respected, and well connected but should not be openly hostile to the change. The champion skeptic is invited to all meetings and is given a chance to point out problems. Use this information to sincerely address the concerns the champion skeptic brings up. Doing so demonstrates open-mindedness and prevents any one concern from escalating into a crisis.

• Push the issue. Put the skeptic in charge of some part of the transition. Suppose you are struggling with a skeptical tester who does not believe testing can be done in the same sprint as the design and programming of a feature. Challenge that tester to identify five ways to help bring the team closer to the goal of testing within the same sprint. The tester won't be able to come up empty for fear that the next person who takes on the task successfully identifies five items. Then, ask the team to either try all five things or to select the one or two ideas that seem most promising initially.

• Build awareness. Presumably you have chosen to do something as difficult as introduce Scrum because there is a compelling need to do so. Perhaps a new competitor has entered your space, perhaps your last product took a year too long to release, or perhaps you have any of a number of similar reasons. Make sure that those involved in the transition are aware of the better future that will follow a successful transition.

In Thad's case, we were able to overcome his skepticism by pushing the issue. We put a stop to his passive resistance to iterating by switching to shorter sprints. The team had been using four-week sprints but was bringing in about six weeks worth of work in each sprint planning meeting. I told them we were going to try two-week sprints until they got a handle on how much could actually be completed in a sprint. Thad didn't like this idea. In the next sprint planning meeting, to point out the foolishness of working in such short sprints, Thad pushed the team to commit to what he thought was a ridiculously small amount of work. It turned out to be the right amount; for the first time the team finished all its work inside one sprint. As team members came to see the value of completing what they committed to,Thad's subtle efforts to force the team to overcommit were thwarted by the team's new insistence that it bring in to the sprint only what it could handle.

Although pushing the issue helped in Thad's case, the biggest factor in eradicating his resistance was time. It just took time (and a mounting pile of anecdotal evidence that it could be done) to sway Thad.

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


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