Recently, Ron Jeffries blogged about Scrum and the Scrum Alliance in Scrum is OK. Let’s get to work! => while I agree with the spirit of his post I think that Ron is too indulgent with certain Scrummers and the Scrum Alliance in particular. In any case, this post is not about that.
This post is about something that Ron’s post made me remember. Specifically, the idea of inclusiveness. Some years ago, the illuminated CEO of a software company hired me, impressed by the sense of novelty that most of the things about XP were inspiring at that time (and they still do, to some extent). We were green, surely naive, but genuine and we put all ourselves into it.
As usual, people matter more than anything. Some colleagues were surprisingly positive and cooperative. Some other a huge disappointment. To my surprise. As I’ve just said, I was green. There was a guy in particular, not so young anymore, who was bullying anybody around and who kept making pointless observations about the fact that XP wasn’t covering explicitly a specific situation that one can encounter under some not so common circumstances. My replies were always that, no, XP in fact wasn’t addressing that problem as stated, but by using some logic and referring XP’s values and principles I was always able to come up with some decent strategy. I tried to talk about adaptation and positive/negative feedback. We could have started from that, if that was a real discussion, a genuine attempt to discover something together. But of course it was not. The guy was just trying to put me down. The irony is that this was a person who couldn’t describe his work in any sensible way, and for which the most sophisticated admissible software method was just slam some code together and we’ll figure it out. Yeah, right.
I guess that this story teaches a few things:
- Don’t feed the trolls (have I mentioned already that I was green?) => this seems obvious but especially in an organization where you start sensing hostility, not only you have to pick your fights but also your genuine discussions
- There will always be somebody trying to find some holes in your proposals and ideas, some aspects that what you’re proposing doesn’t cover => dig a little bit, to check if you’re dealing with a troll or if behind some roughness there’s an inquiring mind, but don’t waste too much time
In the end, colleagues are a bit like customers, and there will always be somebody who’s not happy with what you do. It’s the price to pay for innovation, whose alternative is stagnation. Especially when you’re trying to change an organization, the percentage of unhappy people may be significant, sometimes the majority. That’s ok, it’s part of the game. As they say, change the organization, or change organization.