"But in the real world..."

by Peter Borsella

Isn’t this the real world?  The world where both ScrumMasters (as well as Project Managers) and team members often can’t be dedicated to one project?  Isn’t it the real world  where clients and managers demand hard date deliverables?  That production support saps our time from our project focus?  Where people have no confidence in their ability to commit to things?

Yes, this is the real world, so when some people hear about a new way of looking at work it seems un-real to them.  Can it be possible we can work in an environment where people can focus on one project?  Where clients and managers collaborate together?  Where we are given the freedom to figure out a way of working that accounts for production support in a reasonable manner?  These possibilities are so far from reality for some they believe these descriptions are theoretical textbook or classroom fantasies that don’t actually materialize in the workplace.  “Sure, they’re nice ideas, but you’re not really saying we should go back to our desks and change the world, right?”

Right, that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do.

Hey, don’t get me wrong.  I understand the difficulties we face as we try to implement a new way of working; I’ve been there.  But will it always be this way?  You have to start somewhere, and looking at these changes as unattainable pipe dreams will get us nowhere.  How about starting to look at these changes as possibilities?  What steps can we take to move us closer to that possible reality?  What’s the one thing I can do next to help move us in that direction?

How about making a list of things that need attention, and then the things you can do to help, even if it’s just a small thing?  Here are some examples of small, but very realistic, things that over time can help:
Start implementing pieces of the Scrum framework that won’t cause you to get fired, like meeting every day with a group of people responsible for the work for just 15 minutes.
Choose your words carefully; think of words that can get people to view work differently.  Try words like “priority,” “value,” “investment” instead of “project,” “volunteering” instead of “assigning,” etc.
Sprinkle bits of education around the office; start a brown-bag lunch-and-learn where agile concepts are presented; share books and articles with others.
Increase visibility by exposing the work that’s being done and what things might be slowing us down; do this with as little emotion as possible and stick to the facts.

The tagline for the Scrum Alliance is “Transforming the World of Work.”  Transforming is a process that takes time.  There will never be a perfect time to start, so let’s get real and figure out where we can start.