Scrum Roles from a Lean Perspective

By Ian Mitchell

AnnaER / Pixabay

“It’s weird when you get roles that coincide with your life” – Lily James


Impressive-sounding job titles are a recurring joke in large organizations. They often bear little relationship to the devil’s brew of chaos and drudgery which is a daily reality for most. Cynics may hold that these fripperies are offered by way of compensation for low wages and a dysfunctional working environment. Certainly, any feel-good moment from seeing a mighty role in your email signature is destined to be short lived. The higher-ups will be quick to claim that the performance of an underling ought to be commensurate with their imagined role, even when the salary and authority provided are not. It seems that the most underpaid junior is now considered to be a “manager” of some kind. Perhaps there are almost as many managers now as there are people.

Although dot-coms and startups can make a show of rejecting corporatist bunk, they often replace these sappy monikers with their own form of “role-play”. You will undoubtedly run into people described as “test ninjas” or “automation rockstars”, if you haven’t done so already. My personal favorite was an “agile samurai”…or so his business card claimed. Needless to say it soon turned out he wasn’t.

Roles can be a cultural barrier

Genuine agile transformation must be deep and pervasive. Any or all of an organization’s current roles may need to change, if the enterprise is to improve the way it delivers value. No roles, not even those of well-paid senior executives, are sacrosanct. Any pretence about what people are actually doing must give way to transparency, so power and accountability can be devolved upon those who are responsible for doing the work. The essential challenge is one of effecting the necessary cultural change which circumscribes the things people genuinely need to do, and how they see themselves in relation to that work and to fellow team members. Without that change, organizational gravity will erode any impetus for transformation, as people will revert to established behaviors and cultural norms. Faced with the risk and uncertainty of change, organizational dysfunctions can appeal to us like old friends. Those seasoned roles and practices have carved out a groove leading from yesterday to today, and can presumably still lead us safely on to tomorrow. Why upset the cart which trundles along? Its wheels fit neatly into the well-worn rut.

Agile transformation, which must indeed be deep and pervasive, is therefore hard. The Scrum Framework elicits a mere three roles around which organizations are expected to align, while the Nexus exoskeleton for Scaled Professional Scrum adds just one more. Imagine the difficulty in changing an organizational structure, which may run into hundreds of roles, so that increments of release-quality work may be delivered at least once per month. Yet that is precisely what these few Scrum roles are configured to do, while the bloated structure of the typical large enterprise militates strongly against it.

Stage-gated roles

The essential problem is that organizational work is generally scheduled by resource Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

Be Sociable, Share!