Intercepting Team Decay – Agile San Diego, Jan 3rd

January 2, 20132 min

I will be speaking tomorrow night on the topic of Team decay with a friend and colleague, Lisa Montaño, at Agile San Diego.  For the past eight months, we have been cooking up a new class to teach ScrumMasters and other people in leadership roles the essential skills to be successful as a ScrumMaster.  This course was created out of a conversation we had many months ago and was documented in this post.

In the session at Agile San Diego, we are going to talk about a concept – decay – from Max DePree’s book, Leadership is an Art.  I was really attracted to this topic since I feel this session now gives us a vocabulary to talk about a real phenomenon we see on Scrum Teams.  Everyone knows when you first get started with Scrum everything is (usually) great.  Things happen, people are excited, quality goes up and the customer and business are happy.

Then…something happens and the whole thing begins to suck.  In most cases, this “something” is not a dramatic event, but rather there is a shift in the air.  Almost like a recognition that something stinks and that stink is decay (XPer’s might call this a smell).  In Max DePree’s book, he talks about recognizing and intercepting entropy and deterioration [decay] as one of the most difficult jobs for a leader.  DePree goes further to say that “many people in large organizations relish entropy”.

It is my belief that entropy\decay is one of the major reasons why many Scrum teams begin to fade after the initial rush of enthusiasm.  So DePree’s book identifies the symptoms, but what is the cure.  I think the solution is, in part, restoring the role of ScrumMaster back into being the Servant Leader for the Team.  Come to the talk to learn more about how a skilled Servant Leader can identify the signs of decay and erase their impact in your Scrum Team.