Too much change

By | November 8, 2013

sitting on hands


The role of agile coach is a funny one: even when you’re doing a good job, you can’t put your finger on a deliverable and say “I did that”.

This lack of externally visible, tangible deliverables sometimes makes coaches (and ScrumMasters) feel they need to have an outward show of value. “If I’m not constantly making the team change something, then the company will think I’m doing nothing!”

But sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. Sometimes you should even encourage the team to change nothing.

I’ve seen a team go through a huge upheaval recently: team members leaving, team members joining, moving location, changing focus, changing PO, having a new coach join. They were also in desperate need of a process to manage their work. Yes, they used to use Scrum, but the last 6 months of change had let the processes become so “overgrown” that it was impossible to see what was going on.

The temptation was for the coach to hack away at their processes until she’d transformed the team into a beautifully manicured garden; instead, she helped the team clear away just enough of the debris to see what they were working on and what the next few priorities were, then let the team stabilise: let the new joiners get comfortable (with their new colleagues and the code base), let to PO find his feet in a role that was new to him, clarify what the team’s focus was ‘today’.

That took confidence. Confidence to stand back and say “I know the processes could be better. And I know everyone in the business can see this. But the team is my main focus. The team has experienced immense change recently and, right now, the last thing that’s good for them is more change. When the team is ready, we will make improvements.”

Sometimes a rest really is as good as (or even better than) a change.

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