The Rules Apply to Everyone

While visiting a customer, I had the opportunity to observe their sprint review. The review was underway when a gentleman joined the meeting a little late. After taking a seat at the conference table, he immediately started asking questions. The continued interruptions made it very difficult for the team to show what they had accomplished in the previous sprint. I kept waiting for the Scrum Master to ask the attendees to hold their questions but that never happened.

Eventually, I simply could not take it anymore. I knew I was a guest but something had to be done. So, I politely asked the gentleman to please hold his questions. I assured him once the team was done there would be plenty of time for questions, comments, and suggestions. The goal of this meeting is to allow the team to demo the value they created in the previous sprint so we could make sure we are heading in the right direction. I also added that we did want his feedback but we need the team to be able to show everything first. He immediately complied. I did notice, however, that he leaned over to the person next to him and asked who I was. The person just shrugged her shoulders because I was a stranger to almost everyone in the room.

Once the team was done, the gentleman looked to me before he said anything. I said, “Now is a perfect time for all your questions and feedback.” After the meeting, the Scrum Master said, “I can’t believe you did that.” I asked, “Did what?” Then she replied, “You told our CEO to be quiet.” I explained to her that the rules apply to everyone. But it made sense to me on why no one was asking him to hold his questions. However, the fact that he compiled once he knew the goals and rules of the meeting meant no one had explained the purpose of this meeting to him. CEOs are intelligent people; that is how they became CEO in the first place. They can follow rules once they are explained to them.

I see two problems with this situation. One is lack of education. Everyone that was invited to this meeting should have been educated on the goals and rules. If you just find a meeting on your calendar when you arrive, you will assume it is business as usual. The second problem is the fear of telling your CEO to follow the rules. When you are running an Agile team, the rules apply to everyone.

Comments (1) -

  • David V. Corbin

    3/25/2017 1:46:49 PM | Reply

    Unfortunately, I see the same scenario far too often. The good news is that in the majority of cases, your approach works quite well [in others a private chat might be better, sacrificing the current demo/retro quality to achieve the goal].

    This post should be required reading for ALL Scrum masters, and I will be posting links to it on the many meet-ups and other events I attend...

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