Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The scrum mother - re-explained

Honestly, I never thought my last post could have been that controversial. But I had so many diverging feedbacks: some loved the post, some demolished and told me it was terrible, and some others liked but got the meaning the other way round)... Maybe it is necessary to clarify things a little bit.

I am very convinced that authority stands in the middle of being a good Scrum Master. SM is not a leading role in Scrum, he/she just preserves the integrity of the process, without effectively taking part in it. SM could participate in a discussion, but must not take any decision. SM must ensure that the discussion terminates with a shared decision.

That’s why I came up with the analogy of the Italian mamma and the old-style Italian family. The father has the authority, and brings the money home (hopefully), the mother manages to keep everything running. Preparing the food does not deliver any value to the outside (unless you own a restaurant) but allows family member to be healthy and do their work.

But I guess the metaphor could have turned weak, because I was referring to a very specific type of family, and every single reader had his own idea of mother, and the concepts overlapped diverging a lot from my intentions.

How to raise kids
Probably, the flaw of the mother example is related to the different perception of the mother role within a family. I’ll explain what I meant, going straight to the SM role, to be as clear as possible. SM are not supposed to prevent developers from hurting themselves. SM are supposed to allow the team to grow, by letting them do and recognize mistakes, by allowing them to develop self-confidence and do something on their own. You must be around when your babies are learning to go on a bicycle, but if you keep holding them, or force them to use those small extra wheels ...they’ll learn later. The same applies to swimming, where confidence is just about everything. If you keep being always around, they’ll start crying the first time they’re alone. Delayed growth, lack of confidence and a lot of time spent just “being around” by the senior management.
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