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Getting the managers on board before starting Scrum implementation with a team ..

Typically, when a team that is using another method (for example, waterfall method) of software development goes in for Scrum, there is a lot of inertia involved with the whole process, and the team needs to be trained well before starting to use it (and even then, there will be times when the team will run into unexpected problems that can even shake their faith in scrum). However, one of the bigger problems when initiating Scrum with a new team is related to the managers of the team. All my discussions and articles that I have read talk about the existing managers of the team trying to become more like coaches to their team members after the implementation of Scrum, reducing their authority and letting the team take over with much more responsibility now getting assigned to the team.
Well, there are several problems before one can reach to that level. How easy is it for managers to suddenly let go ? To consider that the authority will be now with the team, while the only person who will still have some authority will be the Scrum Master. And this when the senior management of the organization in most cases will not care about the development methodology that is being applied, and will consider the team managers to still be responsible for delivery on schedule, or else …
What this leads to is the fact that during the process of deciding on Scrum, or during the actual implementation, the managers need to be fully convinced before they are ready for scrum. And this one is not as easy as it seems. We had a team going through the process, and it was quite apparent that the managers were not going to make it easy. The Program Manager of the team was assigned the task of preparing the team for Scrum (or rather, of ensuring that the team would move into Scrum, while also ensuring that the managers were on board); she knew that if the managers were not ready, the Scrum had no chance of getting off to a good start.
So what all did she do (and even then it took a fair amount of time):
– Since day to day work was going to be captured through a tool, she mapped the existing process to the new process in Scrum (along with the responsibility) and the workflow in the new tool. In some cases, this was not a clear mapping and generated a number of questions, but she was prepared, and it seemed to work.
– She had been having discussions with the managers earlier and had prepared a huge list of queries. With those queries, she went into solving them one by one in the new process, and where there was no clear solution, that was also presented. This gave the managers a lot of confidence.
– She had even setup the tool with a demo of the data and walked the managers through the process using the demo data, and this experience of seeing the data that they were comfortable with on the new tool worked fairly well.
– The most critical one. She presented her own analysis of where something that was working earlier in terms of feature or some data workflow would not work so easily in the new process, and although this was a bummer, she got some credit for doing the same.
At the end of this meeting, she had got the managers signed onto the Scrum implementation, which was a big deal; the converse was also true. If she had not done the required homework or her level of knowledge was low, it was quite possible that the decision on Scrum would be reversed, and there would be a lot of flak for the same.

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