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Mike Dwyer

Agile won respect and recognition that the 'old' way of dumping crap on IT and then blaming them for customer problems was over.

Failing Toward a New PO

Scrum and Agile do make a difference but that means you have to let things fall apart, not heroically mind you - that would invoke the ‘dead ScrumMaster rule’, but transparently. 

I once had a Product Owner (PO) who was very happy to ignore the team, declare fiat as the priorities and refuse to come to meetings - preferring to have everything in email (so that it could have traceability).

So when we could not deliver something to her the team wanted to throw out the sprint and act heroically. This was S.O.P. and included the team guessing what was needed and then delivering that best guess. My coaching was to send the email and repeat the warning that what was asked for could not be delivered without her removing the impediment (she needed to send in some information). She ignored the email and did not send the information, she also missed delivering to her customer/account.  It went to the EVP, the emails came out, she went for the team’s throat, and her replacement was very responsive.

Agile did not win any friends with this, what it did win was respect and recognition that the ‘old’ way of dumping crap on IT and then blaming them for customer problems was over. Good PO’s showed up at meetings, made tough decisions and lived with them. Traditional team leads, PO’s and project managers fought hard to keep the old ways but the only way they were able to was to invent new procedures that eventually led to the reorganization and flattening of the company. Is this company Agile according to the ‘little black book’? No and it will never be.  But it is a better, more responsive and happier place to be. 

So I hope you all ask yourselves if your goal as a coach and a trainer is to make your clients and students lives better, or is it to make you feel better about what you think is right.


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