The ScrumMaster Diaries: Introduction to the series

Back on September 23, 2009, I posted a blog entry titled “New to agile? What does the ScrumMaster do anyway?” The response was amazing. It was easily the most popular blog posting I’ve ever created. It made me realize people are starving for information about the ScrumMaster role and what it entails.  At the time I didn’t quite know what I could do to give people more on the topic without boring myself writing it and boring YOU with dry content.  Then I thought maybe this could be fun for all of us if I wrote it as a continuing story.  Sound like fun to you?  It certainly sounded like more fun to me to do it that way!  Brilliant (I hope!).

So, based on my brilliant idea, this is the introduction to “The ScrumMaster Diaries.”  It is a fictional account of an organization converting to Scrum.  It is VERY loosely based on some things I have actually witnessed, but all of the names have been changed (to protect the guilty) and even if people see themselves in these blog postings I doubt I was really basing it on them anyway.  Each person in the story is more of a blend of people, not specific individuals.

The organization chart shown below is for WidCo.  They are the company behind Widget – the best selling collaboration software on the market.  They currently hold 45% of the market while 2nd and 3rd in the market hold 27% and 22% respectively.  The rest of the market is comprised of startup companies.  Unfortunately for WidCo, their last two software releases have been disasterous!  Two years ago WidCo had 62% market share and no competitor had more than 20% of the market.  WidCo CEO Bob (you saw that coming, right?) is very concerned with where the company is at and he forsees imminent disaster if something isn’t done quickly.

He recently held an all hands meeting where he explained the true position of the company and made it clear the next product release had to be a winner or the company would face near certain death within 18 months.  He made it clear to everyone in the organization that failure of the next release is not an option and it is up to everyone to help make it be a success.  He also explained that every possible idea should be considered.

He even admitted to being part of the problem so as a New Year’s resolution he told the company he would be much more hands off.  He would only ask for status at the beginning of each month.  He would also be available for anything the company needed him to do to help create a successful release.  The release was coming first over everything else, even if it meant cancelling previously scheduled appointments with clients or industry groups.  He committed to being there to do whatever was necessary and he hoped the rest of the organization would as well.

Bob left the meeting holding his breath.  He knew he laid it on thick, but he felt it was necessary.  Alan and Richard were to the point of arguing about everything in every release.  Jean’s group is completely overwhelmed with support calls after their last two releases and there is no end in sight because there is no money to hire more help.

Henry and Pam also argue all the time.  Sometimes Bob thought that was just because their bosses argued so they felt they had to as well.

Shawn was normally a laid back guy, but he knew how to sell Widget.  Unfortunately he hadn’t hit his sales goals for 2 years and felt it was because the software was simply showing it was old and outdated.  He wasn’t sure Shawn would be staying with the company, but knew he needed him in order to succeed.

Then there was the big problem – Joe and Carol were both control freaks and they both really disliked each other.  It was clearly Dev vs. QA which meant Joe vs. Carol, pretty much all the time.  Poor Jeff, Laurie and Nick were left to fend for themselves.

Bob knew the company was in trouble, but he also knew he had the best people in the world.  He wouldn’t trade a single one for anyone else.  If they couldn’t make this work, then no one could!

After the all hands meeting was over the company was in shock.  As part of the meeting Bob had given everyone a week off to relax so they could come back and make the push necessary for success.  He made it very clear that no one was to work during the week off.  He wanted everyone to remember what having fun felt like.  He even said the person who came back with the best story about having fun would get a $2500 bonus when the company re-opened the next week.

This is where the story will begin with next week’s blog entry.  I’ll be putting these entries into their own category (The ScrumMaster Diaries) so you can always click in the category cloud and get all of the stories in one place.

Until the next chapter comes out, make some guesses in the comments below about how you think the story will play out.  Based on the org chart what do you think Richard and Alan will be doing?  How about the rest of the company?  Hopefully I’ll surprise a few of you along the way, so come back next week and start the journey with WidCo!

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