37804Re: Scrum fiction - a story
- Apr 20, 2009Good story. Thanks for posting it!
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "pieter.vandriessche" <pieter.van.driessche@...> wrote:
> One morning, Carl woke up and his world was gone. Earth still existed,
> but the world on Earth, the civilization, was gone. There was no
> telephone and no electricity, no light, no radio, no airplanes, no
> sound, no cars in the streets. Everything was gone. Not by some stupid
> war or an earthquake or a flood, no, it was rather simple: everyone just
> dropped dead.
> Soon enough, Carl found bodies: the neighbours first, but after some
> driving around also his family. In fact, the whole town was dead. He
> didn't found out why. There were no signs on the bodies he examined.
> It was as if they slept to death.
> As all human minds would do his crashed. He locked himself in his house
> and didn't come out for 4 days. After that, he got hungry (no more
> food in the kitchen), and he had a choice: starve to death, kill himself
> or drive to a supermarket and get some food.
> At the supermarket he noticed there were survivors all the same. It
> meant he was not alone. Somebody had been searching through the shelves
> before him, although there was something strange: the upper shelves were
> left alone, as if the hungry people all had been small. Or maybe they
> were not human, but animals?
> When he came out, he saw movement: some kids were running away from him.
> First he was shocked; in his world he was alone. After some valuable
> seconds he shook his head and he shouted, and they came back. The kids
> were scared and happy at the same time: they too thought they were
> alone. He took them to his place, gave them something to drink and some
> food. It was cold, so he installed a wood stove, and it was soon warm in
> the house. They were finally able to clean up.
> Carl wondered if there were other survivors, and why they hadn't
> been looking around for people like him. He soon understood why: the
> only survivors where children.
> After one week, his house became too small: there were over 50 children.
> He moved to the town school.
> After one month, the town school became too small with over 300
> children. He moved to a city college.
> After two months, he stopped searching. With over 500 children at the
> school, he had to decide between helping the found children, or the lost
> children. He abandoned the search and attacked the problems in the
> school: food, drinks, warmth and health at first, but also education and
> First he tried to do it all by himself, but after two days he realised
> this was impossible. He was already too late before he started. He came
> back with a truck full of food. After eating they complained it was
> cold. He provided wood for the stoves, but found out there were not
> enough stoves. When he came back with the stoves, there was no food left
> anymore. Of course there was no time to sleep, because in between the
> enormous amount of work children got ill or injured, had bad dreams,
> fought, and cried and cried and cried.
> So Carl installed a military command structure: he was the general: the
> oldest kids where the colonels, the sergeants were the group
> responsibles and finally the soldiers were the regular kids. Every week
> there was a meeting with the colonels, in which he told every colonel
> what their group had to do, and they passed the message through to the
> sergeants and the soldiers. At first this was a lot better, certainly
> for him: now he could delegate his work. Initially, the children also
> liked it: it provided a structure after the chaos. At least it was warm
> and they could eat, and Carl even had very limited time to look
> personnaly after some very needy children, who were traumatised by the
> death of their mommy or daddy or sister or brothers (or even, in one
> case, the death of a goldfish).
> After some weeks he noticed there were few happy faces around. Of
> course, all of these children had lost relatives, so they should be sad.
> But by now there should be a little laughing, some kids should play and
> be... be kids!
> He also observed there was no initiative whatsoever. There was a lot of
> dirt on the playground, and Carl deliberately waited one week to see if
> anyone, a colonel, sergeant of soldier would notice the problem and
> solve it, but no. Nobody did. Even when he asked to clean the
> playground, just to see if anyone would object or ask questions, nobody
> did. Oh yeah, they asked how they should clean it. With a brush or just
> with their hands? How many kids needed to be `deployed'? When
> should it been finished?
> In the end; he was as busy as before. Ok, more things were being done,
> but not enough. Not in the right way. Nothing ever improved. He kept on
> tumbling and failing.
> He then became very scared: what if, one day, he just dropped dead? The
> whole structure would collapse, kids would probably die because he made
> himself unreplacable. Nobody knew why he took decisions, and no one ever
> argued about a better solution. Carl had to do it all. Think, delegate,
> explain in detail, execute and check the result. He would like to just
> explain what had to be done, and then check it. He didn't want to
> deal with the details of the tasks. He would rather occupy himself with
> some new ideas on education or recreation. Go swimming, for example.
> Teach the little kids to read, and the big kids to drive a car. He was
> the only one who could learn them; they had no other grown-ups to serve
> as reference. Last but not least, he would like some time just to love
> the kids.
> How to solve this?
> He could not appoint a backup general, even the oldest kids were only
> For a very short moment he considered disappearing for a couple of weeks
> to see how things would turn out, but he couldn't do that. That
> would add some more trauma's to the little kids - even to the older
> ones, although they would certainly not admit it.
> Carl really didn't know what to do, so he broke into the school
> library and looked for books on this subject. After some reading on
> management he knew what the problem was: he was the only responsible.
> Responsible for the tasks, of course, but also responisble for the
> micro-management he hated so much. (He was happy he could now name his
> problem; unfortunately it still had to be solved.)
> Because responsibility was one of the key-words describing his problem,
> Carl decided the responsibility had to go back to the kids. Not to the
> colonels or the sergeants, they were just pass-throughs, no, to the kids
> themselves. He knew this change would cause a lot of distress and the
> specific procedure was yet unclear, so he started with one pilot-team
> (another management term out of his books).
> It was a group of 10 kids, with mixed ages and genders.
> "From now on, you are responsible for the playground. No more dirt
> or garbage, it attracts rats and mice."
> One kid asked: "How should we do this?"
> "I don't care. Just figure it out for yourselves.There is no
> more sergeant in this group."
> Carl didn't feel happy when he left the group. By the way, the kids
> neither, they didn't understand why he had to change somethings
> which worked quite well.
> The first day, the playground was as dirty as before.
> The second day, he saw some of the little kids of the group cleaning up,
> with the bigger kids watching.
> He assembled the group and said: "I forgot to mention something: the
> whole group has to feel happy. If I ask to one of the group if they are
> happy with the work they do, the only answer can be: yes."
> The third day, the whole group cleaned up.
> After two weeks, Carl assembled the group and asked them how things
> went. To his surprise, they were not happy, certainly not happier then
> during the military approach. They had a lot of problems in the
> organisation; especially with the "happy group" feeling. How
> could they be sure every kid was happy? Could he tell them how? Oh, and
> they also didn't have the proper tools to do the job.
> "Just solve your problems yourself!" he shouted. Carl was
> desperate; he was really convinced this was the solution. It had to be,
> there was no other way. He couldn't do this work for a long time any
> more, he was very tired.
> Carl didn't pay attention to the pilotgroup anymore, he considered
> it a failed experiment, but one week later he saw the playground was not
> only clean, they also painted the by-lines of the soccer field nearby.
> The group was just playing soccer when he passed by. He didn't dare
> ask about the problems, it seemed they solved it, as a group. Very
> Next day new rules were applied.
> 500 kids in groups of 8-10 kids made 55 groups. Each group had one
> Helper. These Helpers (in red), mostly one of the older kids, were
> chosen among the group and had to help the kids with whatever assigment
> they received. The Helpers were part of a group themselves: a
> Helpergroup. There were 8 Helpergroups; in their turn each had
> Superhelpers, which were part of a Superhelpergroup. He repeated
> multiple times: the only task of the helpers, on any level, was to help
> there team of Superteam.
> Carl also made a (very big) list with every possible task on it. Every
> week, he let the teams choose which task to pick up. The result was
> of course that the nice tasks were always taken first and the
> more important (boring) tasks never. So he adjusted his list: he
> prioritised it, and applied the rule that tasks had to be taken in
> It worked well, but not flawlessly. Carl had to intervene a lot. First,
> he made the mistake to take back control and to assign detailed tasks to
> the groups in trouble. He soon found it this wasn't the way: they
> would go back to "the bad times" that way.
> For exemple, one team had an assigment of preparing the lunch-food on
> Monday, and the food was always cold. There were a lot of complaints
> about it from the other teams (because the kids started to see
> themselves as a part of a team rather then as individuals), and he first
> intervened by telling that team to warm the food dish by dish. But soon
> that team came to him with other problems, and they were back to where
> they started: he had to tell everything in detail. So he said: "The
> food has to be warm. If you need help, ask your Helper, but you solve
> this problem."
> Group 15 to 21:
> Helpergroup 3 (consists of helpers of group 15 to 21) and Helpergroup 5
> (Consists of helpers of group 34 to 40):
> The Superhelpergroup:
> The system with the helpers worked very well, problems were solved on
> day-to-day level, but also on a much higher level. In the
> Superhelpergroup they worked on how to prevent kids from getting ill,
> what could be done to avoid `work'-accidents, etc.
> After one month, he realised he was still doing to much detail-work.
> Next to this, the list was too big, and the same powerful teams always
> picked up the nice and interesting tasks.
> Carl reassigned a light hierarchical structure: each group needed
> someone to put work in their basket. He assigned 8 bosses, who filled
> the grouplists. On those lists, tasks/responsibilities and priorities of
> each group were indicated. Opposite of what he initialy thought, nobody
> liked to be boss: it was a lot of work, and you were not popular. In
> order to solve this problem, every two weeks one group was assigned only
> one task: being boss to the other groups.
> Twenty five years later, when Carl retired and found him a nice farm in
> the country, where surrounded by his 3 wifes and 15 kids he
> could rest and finally enjoy his life, he read a book.
> It was a book with a strange cover: horizontal bars of colors with the
> wrong name of the colors in it. When the book was finished, he cursed
> and at the same time he was proud.
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