Tangential comments about Software Development

Friday, September 01, 2006

Agile leadership - make it happy

Brian Marick blogged An unhappy trend: leadership which I saw supported on Willem van den Ende's post Just enough structure.

I took part in Willem's Drawing Carousel session at Agile 2006.

The most striking comment in the final wrap up was that some of the team were unhappy not knowing the overall state of the project. We traced that to having stuck to the limitation of pairs not communicating during iterations. I checked to see if you would have allowed us to have someone overseeing - Willem said yes - so the restriction was self-imposed or we were too blinkered to think of it.

This is a sign that there is a desire for co-ordination and overseeing - I’m going to call that leadership. And that self-organising teams may well not put someone in this role.

I suggest that “An unhappy trend: leadership” is wrong. The unhappy trend is the Great Man theory being adopted by Agilists. A good scrum master functions by leading in an agile way, not leading in a great man way.

And a self-organising team will benefit from considering appointing a leader in a way that suits the team.