Management Role in Scrum

ScrumMaster is a management role, but Management has no role in Agile Scrum business …. Interesting.

One should be always asking the question how can Management help a Scrum team. The current understanding in the industry based on my experience is that Scrum was just a tool to shield developers from management, forcing management to interact with developers on their terms.

There are two key things that management can provide: Vision and Organizational Support (i.e. impediment removal, thereby improving productivity). For the starters, Take a leaf from Toyota’s way of working, Management should have “vision and strategy, with enough knowledge to be able to translate that into day-to-day concepts”. Someone capable of driving a common goal and vision across all products and projects.

In Scrum, Management’s role should be that of Change Agent, It is all about bringing an organizational change,  change in the thought process.

When agile is introduced into an organization, a tremendous amount of organizational change must occur to empower and enable agile teams in their pursuit of delivering business value. A ScrumMaster needs to develop keen skills in organizational change and an ability to shepherd an organization through the adoption change curve.

Affecting existing performance management systems, working with peer managers to lean-out business processes, and saying “no” to starting more work are all typical examples of thorny organizational impediments that any ScrumMaster will likely face.

For any Scrum initiative to be successful, one requires the basic change in the thought process, actions from the management side, I realize based on my 24 months of experience that development teams are trained in Scrum Practices, but the Sr. Management of the organization has little or no clue on what are the rules of engagement in a Scrum World, What should be the expectation from the system, They still live in the old traditional style of management.

It is important for us to understand that Management should also be oriented on the concepts of Scrum and adequate expectation management should be performed with them, In absence of the same, the entire structure would collapse and there would be no ROI available

During one of my assignments, I heard a Sr. Manager making an interesting statement I quote “We want to follow and adopt the Scrum Practice, because all our competitors are doing it and we do not want to left out of the race”, This set the bell ringing in my mind, are we doing Agile Scrum, because others are doing it? Do we really have a need for doing Scrum, Does it warrant our nature of business? What is our expectation from the system?

Many a questions, but no real answers coming out.

One needs to understand the basic principle in Scrum Team, that they are supposed to be self-organizing and self-managing, In such a case, many of the “classic” management tasks are no longer important or even appropriate.

Blanchard & Hersey have created theories where in they realized that there were different management styles appropriate for different situations.  They created the Situational Leadership model to map effective leadership styles to different situations.  The most effective leadership style for a group of people who are “Willing to Do the Job + Have Ability to do the Job” , This is the group that would be ideally suited for the Agile Scrum Business, Set up the process and allow them the freedom to do the job, let them run the system, wait on the side lines and guide when required, Doesn’t this  Sounds like an Scrum World

Going from involvement to commitment is a big step, one that will not occur naturally. For a firm to have Committed employees, the Management must be committed first, do that it must undertake the following:

  • Have Clear Goals. The purpose of a company must be worthwhile and serve a greater purpose than just making a profit. People who believe in the company goals will be committed to working hard to achieve the desired purpose of the organization.
  • Empower People. Employees will only be committed when they feel they have some control over their work, having a voice in what is done, and are able to make decisions about how they perform their jobs. What empowerment does mean is that within the guidelines of the organization’s goals and procedures, a person has some control over how they go about doing their part to achieve these goals.
  • Show the required commitment to employees. Employees will not be committed to a company, unless they feel the company is also committed to them. A company demonstrates its commitment to its employees by providing compensation packages (including perks), treating employees with respect, trusting its workers and acting with integrity.
  • Share the rewards. If employees are to go above and beyond on a consistent basis they need to believe that they will be rewarded for their commitment. Committed employees produce extraordinary results, but their commitment will soon fade if the fruits of their efforts are not shared.

This level of employee commitment will only occur when the firm displays a commitment to its employees by implementing the factors mentioned above. This type of orientation creates a win-win situation, where consumer needs are met, employees feel good about their contributions and the firm earns a profit.

This for me would be the role of the Management in a Scrum Project


1 Comment

  1. It is really good and valuable information considering many operational aspects. Additionaly I want to say, when any project want to adopt Agile based Scrum implementation, it is underlay of adopting self discipline for project development teams, management as well as client teams (in client – vendor relationship). Many aspects are very preciously mentioned about expectations from team and senior management in this article.

    Since client is going to get benefit of early shippable product in phase wise manner instead of waiting for long time for final product to deliver, role of expectation management from client plays very important aspect.

    In article many valuable pointers are highlighted from senior management’s facet. I suggest to add dimension of controlling and managing client management for handling iterations, attending standup meetings, support to eliminate hurdles etc. without which any success of any project is unfeasible.

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