People over processes – Use it regularly as a Scrum Master

People over processes

Intro

When consulting individuals in an organization or a team I do like to get back to the agile manifesto. No matter how you get work done and if you are using Scrum, Kanban, or just want to take a step more towards a more agile organization, the manifesto always was something that added value.

Let’s focus today on the first of four principles:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

AgileManifesto.org

If you are new to this, one could also read this principle as follows: While processes and tools are important and should not be neglected, the individuals and interactions are more important in the end and should “win”.

Written stuff is nice… real life?

This does read nice on paper but what now? How does this principle help us in an agile environment or towards a more agile environment? Let’s discuss a real-world example, in fact, one I regularly see when being in contact with a Scrum Team. Let’s say Elsa and Frank are part of the development team and they are implementing a new feature for a product. They do this by adding new programming logic written in C# and have implemented a CI/CD pipeline. They also use pull requests regularly.

In this team, there have been regular discussions when Elsa is trying to add something to the codebase. She would do this with a technical pull request which notified Frank. Frank did check the code and, at least for 3 sprints, was almost always not happy about some parts of the implementation. Frank commented on this in the code and of course, somehow it led to the fact that Elsa could not integrate her part of the code into the product.

Depending on the situation this can be a cumbersome and frustrating process. You can imagine Elsa not being happy about the fact and the written back and forth was not beneficial for the team. Frank did give pretty direct feedback, presumably not knowing that this would eventually hurt Elsa’s feelings. Thankfully, Elsa did address this topic transparently on one of the team’s retrospectives, which is already more than I have seen on many scrum teams. However, they could not find a way to solve this impediment which brought the Scrum Master in charge to try to help the team in this case. And of course, he wrote one of the principles of the Agile manifesto on the board:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

The Scrum Master challenged the team: “When you read this line and think about a possible solution, what now?”

Luckily, the team itself found the solution. “You are right! Just using the tool for our code review is just not enough and has a lot of potential to be misunderstood. How about we put pair programming in place to share knowledge and give direct feedback instead of using a tool to provide feedback?”. This team profited a lot from this simple measure.

Summary

Yes they do still have the processes and they still use the tools to support them but this does not replace speaking to each other for real teamwork!

What does AI say about this?

I’m just totally fascinated by artificial intelligence and always try to bring up a picture on the discussed stuff as I always say “A picture is worth a thousand words”. So let me know if this is true with the following picture 😉

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