Agile Micromanagement — Very seriously? – DZone Agile



There are a good deal of failure prospects with Scrum. In fact, given that Scrum is a framework with a affordable however limited “manual,” this outcome should not shock anyone. For illustration, the Scrum Guide evidently states the worth of self-administration at the Scrum crew level. Nevertheless, the prevailing bring about of numerous messed-up attempts to use Scrum result from what I simply call agile micromanagement, a pseudo-motivation to agile principles only to be overridden whenever it would seem effective from a stakeholder’s or manager’s viewpoint.

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The Scrum Crew and the Goal of Self-Administration In accordance to the Scrum Guideline

According to the Scrum Guidebook, the Scrum team is self-running:

“The elementary device of Scrum is a little staff of persons, a Scrum Workforce. The Scrum Crew is composed of just one Scrum Learn, 1 Products Operator, and Developers. Within just a Scrum Staff, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies. It is a cohesive device of gurus centered on one particular goal at a time, the Products Aim.

Scrum Groups are cross-functional, indicating the customers have all the techniques important to produce value every Sprint. They are also self-running, that means they internally come to a decision who does what, when, and how.”

Supply: Scrum Manual 2020.

Further than these direct references to the mother nature of the Scrum team, there are also plenty of other references in the course of the Scrum Guideline to just one of the first rules of Scrum — self-management: 

  • Page 4: Adaptation becomes additional complicated when the men and women associated are not empowered or self-taking care of.
  • Website page 5: In just a Scrum Workforce, there are no sub-groups or hierarchies.
  • Website page 5: They are also self-handling, which means they internally choose who does what, when, and how.
  • Web site 5: They are structured and empowered by the firm to deal with their personal operate. 
  • Page 6: The Scrum Learn serves the Scrum Crew in numerous methods, which include coaching the staff users in self-administration and cross-features.
  • Site 8: [Sprint Planning: How will the chosen work get done?] How this is accomplished is at the sole discretion of the Builders. No one particular else tells them how to change Product or service Backlog things into Increments of price.
  • Web page 9: The Developers can select whatever composition and procedures they want, as very long as their Daily Scrum focuses on development towards the Dash Purpose and provides an actionable strategy for the future day of work. This results in emphasis and enhances self-management.

Resource: The aggregation of quotes is taken from the Scrum Manual Reordered.

Make it possible for me to place at the evident: Self-corporation does not signify the absence of management: Why would a Scrum group suppose, for instance, obligation for pay-job? Would that aid with making worth for the purchaser? Probably significantly less so. As a result, staying a self-organizing crew does not indicate the absence of management for every se. Nevertheless, it does suggest that there is no require for micromanagement equivalent to practices at a Common Motors assembly plant in 1926.

Reasons for Agile Micromanagement 

In my experience, agile turns into micromanagement due to the center management’s resistance to improve. Inspite of far better understanding, shifting an firm into a finding out one that embraces experimentation and failure is not in everybody’s best curiosity. Also, self-arranging, empowered teams often conflict with the middle management’s drive to execute own agendas, self-preservation remaining just one of them. I have noticed a few key explanations why organizations revert from agile principles—such as Scrum’s emphasis on the self-management of teams—to agile micromanagement, merely having to pay lip support to the primary rules:

  1. Perceived loss of control: Remaining qualified as the go-to particular person for all complications in their departments, professionals come across it tricky to take that teams are now self-taking care of and tasked to arrive up with methods on their own. If their subordinates no extended need to have them, won’t they turn out to be out of date sooner or later on?
  2. Encountering a severe difficulty: The management abandons self-group the second a critical trouble appears and kinds ‘task forces’ as an alternative of supporting the current Scrum teams in solving the trouble.
  3. Assigning jobs: Supervisors assign precise jobs immediately to Builders, consequently bypassing the Merchandise Proprietor and disregarding the Developer’s self-organization prerogative. Alternatively, the manager gets rid of a Developer from a team to do the job on this kind of a task.

The Outcomes: Pretending to honor agile concepts has a quick existence span as a lot of practitioners in the Scrum groups will figure this out incredibly swiftly. Shedding rely on can be devastating as believe in is the beginning of every thing. With out rely on, there is no transparency without the need of transparency, there is no inspection, and devoid of inspection, there is no adaptation. This delivers us back to where by we started out: Waterfall-ish arranging disguising the hope that a guess may perhaps do the job out and offer a profession push for the initiator. At the similar time, the practitioners consider to keep out of the inevitable blame recreation, accumulating their spend cheques at the conclude of the month: “You pretend we are agile, and we pretend to treatment for the consequence.”

The Alternative: Embrace that in a sophisticated environment, there are no extended gurus who can address any dilemma they encounter. Therefore, the management style requirements to adapt from telling folks what to do when and how to encouraging collective mastering, checking out choices, and figuring out remedies resulting from teamwork. It is the management’s process to develop an natural environment that enables this to take place by like anyone and supplying every person a voice in a psychologically protected place. For the management, it is hence time to abandon Taylorism for servant leadership. 


From the conservative center manager’s issue of check out, there are lots of reasons why sticking to a command and manage management type seems individually valuable. Hence there is a temptation to undertake any agile transition to the demands of their nearby the best possible and private job preparing, ensuing in agile micromanagement. Which in the long run contradicts the objective of empowering self-arranging groups at an organizational stage in the to start with place.

The concern is not that these persons attempt to triumph over troubles to their private agendas by pseudo-commitments to agile principles only to override them each time it appears to be beneficial. Rather, the difficulty is that change brokers supporting agile transformations barely put together for that celebration. Following all, are not the 4 values of the Manifesto for Agile Application Improvement typical sense? So, who would reject them?

Have you encountered businesses reverting back again to agile micromanagement? Please share your learnings with us in the feedback.

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