Session: Agile Project Manager, Product Owner and ScrumMaster are all broken - The Next Evolution of Agile Leadership Roles
At: Holiday-inn Hotel ... City Stars, Cairo, Egypt
Date: 8 Sept 2016,
There was a QA session followed by a session by Ahmed Sidky. My comments here are related to Sidky session.
In my opinion, he was presenting his experience in managing ownership and accountability in his Riot Games company.
First, he showed that, after joining Riot, he found the traditional Agile roles are confusing and makes it difficult to decide which one is really accountable for team results. That situation pushed him to experiment and come up with a different model.
Sidky broke up responsibilities into 35 distinct responsibilities. He was presenting them in the form of plastic cards, something similar to Planning Poker cards but double its size.
At Riot Games, they created 4 leadership roles as following:
- Team Captain: This is the head of the other three leads. He is accountable about the project. He is the only accountable person in the four leadership roles. Later on, I will explain what is meant by being accountable.
- Delivery Lead: Responsible about delivery deadlines.
- Product Lead: Responsible about the product scope, something like Product Owner, I think.
- Craft Lead: Like Test Lead, Developers Lead and so on. He is responsible about the craft quality and standards of his/her team’s work.
Sidky gave color for each leadership role, for example red color is assigned to the Team Captain. He showed us physical hats with different colors. The only problem is that; the size of hats is a little bit small to be wore by humans.
From the 35 responsibilities, there are 10 that are hard coded to each role and cannot be changed.
First, the project team conduct a workshop with team members. They list the other 25 role cards and they collaborate to assign each of these responsibilities to these hats/roles.
Then, the team self-organize to assign a team member to each role/hat. There may be some additional conversations and negotiation until the team agree on the result. The result will be that, all 35 responsibilities are distributed on the four roles and a team member is assigned to each role/hat. Each team member can have one or more hats, or none at all of course.
Regarding accountability, Sidky described three steps for poor performance evaluation. First Step is to conduct a meeting, understand the problem, and what to do about it now and in the future. There is no blame culture, any one mentioned in conversation is invited immediately.
Second Poor Performance case: Just like the first one. I expect the conversation will be more difficult.
Third poor performance case: Here is where management will take action.
He mentioned that, we cannot overlook that, there are poor members and good members. In some cases, you have to fire poor performing members.
Note: The above description is a representation of my understanding to what Sidky proposed. It may be incomplete or inaccurate. Your feedback is welcomed.
My Personal Notes:
- I find it is OK to design your role in your organization. Feel free to break the famous Scrum Roles SM/PO if it makes sense. According to Agile Manifesto, roles are not included in Agile Values or Principles. It was described in Scrum and many people find it useful.
- As Sidky said that, this is RI phase of inventing things. If you are an Agile beginner, be careful and follow some well-known recipes, such as Scrum or Kanban.
- I find it very self-organizing and matches Agile spirit to let the team collaborate on responsibilities and role assignment.
It was a fun event, Sidky enjoys a sense of humor. Here are some pictures from the event.