An Agile team is comprised of a product owner, team members (from all the disciplines needed to deliver the project) and the scrum master. Delivering on the team’s commitment is the ultimate measure of value. The scrum master helps to create an environment for the team to work together. Over the life of a project, everyone on the team has to lead and facilitate for the team to effectively deliver value.
Leadership in Agile projects has multiple layers. Product owners provide visionary leadership. Scrum masters provide process leadership and day-to-day leadership is more situational and generally defused across the entire team. Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, leadership gurus and authors, have both written that effective leadership is task-relevant. Task-relevant means that the task will determine the type of leadership and in an Agile who provides that leadership. The focus of any Agile team changes over the life of project based on both on the stories being worked on and the barriers being addressed. As the focus changes, the mantle of tactical leadership typically changes. In a typical sprint, the product owner’s leadership will be most apparent during story grooming and planning as the focus changes to analysis and construction development personal provide leadership. When the focus turns to proving that a story is done the focus changes again and the testing role typically provides leadership until the team drives a story to completion when the cycle begins again. The scrum master facilitates that ebb and flow reflecting their own form of leadership.
The primary role of a scrum master is as a facilitator. That responsibility does not have to be shouldered alone. All team members are responsible for keeping work flowing, for unsticking work when it gets stuck and for helping to create an environment to maximize the delivery of value. Every member of the team has eyes and ears and within the boundary and intimacy of the team and the responsibility to help each other meet their common goals.
While a product owner prioritizes and a scrum master facilitates, it takes a whole team to deliver. The whole team is responsible for getting the job done which means that at different times in different situations different members will need to provide leadership. Every team member brings their senses to the project-party, which makes all of them responsible looking for trouble and then helping to resolve it even if there isn’t a scrum master around.
Also, airports and driving have conspired to keep me from finishing this week’s essay from The Mythical Man-Month, therefore I thought I would seek your advice. The Re-Read of The Mythical Man-Month by Fred P. Brooks is nearly complete. We have one very long retrospective essay and an epilogue left in the book and a summary essay from me. I anticipate one or two more weeks of posts. The burning question is: what is next? We have re-read Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits, The Goal by Goldratt and now The Mythical Man-Month. I have two questions for you. 1) Do you want me to continue with this feature? And, 2) which book should be next? It is time for a poll. If you would like to suggest a book that is not on the list, feel free to “write-in” a candidate in the comments for this essay. I have included the top entries from the poll I did a few years ago and a few suggestions readers and listeners have made along the way (or books I have rediscovered as I poked around my library).
One final comment before the poll. Thanks to Anteneh Berhane for his great question on the relationship between value and done (Done and Value Are Related! Part 1 and Part 2). The question Anteneh asked made me think about an aspect of software development that it is easy to assume, does functional software always measn value. I love to answer questions, so please continue to reach out by phone, email, Twitter and let’s talk. I categorize all responses to questions with the tag “FAQ” to facilitate searches.
So, please vote below. There are two polls. For the second question about my next Re-Read book, please vote for your top 2 choices.
Now it is time for the polls: