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37804Re: Scrum fiction - a story

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  • davenicolette
    Apr 20, 2009
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      Good story. Thanks for posting it!


      --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "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
      > recreation.
      > 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
      > 14.
      > 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
      > strange...
      > 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
      > priority.
      > 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:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/pi\
      > c/681335478/view
      > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/p\
      > ic/681335478/view>
      > Helpergroup 3 (consists of helpers of group 15 to 21) and Helpergroup 5
      > (Consists of helpers of group 34 to 40):
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/pi\
      > c/928851082/view
      > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/p\
      > ic/928851082/view>
      > The Superhelpergroup:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/pi\
      > c/1034768643/view
      > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/p\
      > ic/1034768643/view>
      > 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.
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/pi\
      > c/1017397620/view
      > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/photos/album/540863899/p\
      > ic/1017397620/view>
      > 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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