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Delegation and empowerment versus self-organization

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  • David J. Anderson
    I have a question primarily for Ken and Mike but anyone else is welcome to chime in. How would you define the difference between your notion of
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 12, 2003
      I have a question primarily for Ken and Mike but
      anyone else is welcome to chime in.

      How would you define the difference between your
      notion of "self-organization" and the more establish
      management practice of "delegation and empowerment"?

      Supplementary question, Ken is heavily advocating that
      self-organization is at the heart of agile and
      anything which doesn't self organize is by implication
      not agile. Further to this, any certified scrum master
      caught advocating something which is not
      self-organizing can be ex-communicated from the SCM
      community and qualification - my interpretation of
      this from the Certified Scrum site "Any individual can
      have their ScrumMaster Certification revoked by a
      majority vote of existing ScrumMaster/2's if they
      determine that the individual is not acting in the
      best interests of agile processes as described in the
      Agile Manifesto".

      Hence, I would like to hear whether Ken believes that
      highly delegated and developer empowered processes do
      or do not qualify as "agile" in his mind.

      Regards,

      David


      =====
      David J Anderson
      Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
      http://www.agilemanagement.net/

      __________________________________
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    • Ken Schwaber
      I m not sure what the difference between highly delegated and developer empowered processes and self-organization and self-management are. I do know that
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 12, 2003
        I'm not sure what the difference between "highly delegated and developer
        empowered" processes and "self-organization" and "self-management" are. I do
        know that a key to the team taking off in being happy and productive is that
        they are responsible for managing themselves, come what may. Empowered is a
        greatly abused word that usually means that I've given you enough rope to
        hang yourself so you'd better do well.

        Scrum is a journey and a difficult journey. The CSM process is intended to
        create a community of individuals that know a bit more to figure out how
        best to improve software development using the empirical inspect/adapt
        approach. Everyone must walk their own path and figure out how to do it best
        in their own environment. The statement in the CSM about the ability to be
        voted out is not a sword over everyone's head, but a deterrence against
        anyone willfully saying that they are for Scrum and agile while knowingly
        and maliciously undercutting what we are all working for. Take it easy! Just
        like Scrum, being a CSM is the art of the possible and everyone will do
        their best.

        Ken

        -----Original Message-----
        From: David J. Anderson [mailto:netherby_uk@...]
        Sent: Sunday, October 12, 2003 7:09 PM
        To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Delegation and empowerment versus
        self-organization


        I have a question primarily for Ken and Mike but
        anyone else is welcome to chime in.

        How would you define the difference between your
        notion of "self-organization" and the more establish
        management practice of "delegation and empowerment"?

        Supplementary question, Ken is heavily advocating that
        self-organization is at the heart of agile and
        anything which doesn't self organize is by implication
        not agile. Further to this, any certified scrum master
        caught advocating something which is not
        self-organizing can be ex-communicated from the SCM
        community and qualification - my interpretation of
        this from the Certified Scrum site "Any individual can
        have their ScrumMaster Certification revoked by a
        majority vote of existing ScrumMaster/2's if they
        determine that the individual is not acting in the
        best interests of agile processes as described in the
        Agile Manifesto".

        Hence, I would like to hear whether Ken believes that
        highly delegated and developer empowered processes do
        or do not qualify as "agile" in his mind.

        Regards,

        David


        =====
        David J Anderson
        Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
        http://www.agilemanagement.net/

        __________________________________
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      • Marc Hamann
        ... I too am interested in what Ken has to say about this. However, I have my own answer: where genuine delegation and empowerment exist, there is no
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 12, 2003
          At 07:08 PM 10/12/03, David J. Anderson wrote:
          >How would you define the difference between your
          >notion of "self-organization" and the more establish
          >management practice of "delegation and empowerment"?

          I too am interested in what Ken has to say about this.

          However, I have my own answer: where genuine delegation and empowerment
          exist, there is no difference.

          Unfortunately, delegation and empowerment are frequently euphemisms for
          blame and exploitation.

          This is why merely citing the principles is not enough; all of one's
          metrics, practices and policies must converge to support these principles.

          To my mind, any approach that does this is Agile whether it is called that
          or not, and vice versa.

          I might even say that the practices that we now refer to as Agile are
          simply these principles worked out into a practical, consistent plan of action.

          Marc
        • Mike Beedle
          ... David: Great question. In my view: * self-organization assumes the ScrumMaster works for the team i.e. the team decides how it wants to do things within
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 13, 2003
            David J. Anderson bravely asked:
            > How would you define the difference between your
            > notion of "self-organization" and the more establish management
            > practice of "delegation and empowerment"?

            David:

            Great question. In my view:

            * self-organization assumes the ScrumMaster works for the team
            i.e. the team decides "how" it wants to do things within the
            Sprint and the ScrumMaster assists the team primarily by
            removing
            impediments. (In some cases the ScrumMaster is also a
            technical member of the team so he has to know when to act
            as the "ScrumMaster".)

            Metaphor: bee hive == individual agents that participate in
            a cooperative game to accomplish shared goals using a
            distributed
            coordination mechanism fueled by collaborative values.

            * "delegation and empowerment" stills assumes, in my definition,
            that the technical team "is _given_ tasks to do" but
            that there is a power hierarchy where the leader is in command.
            In other words that the team members are "somewhat empowered
            direct reports" of the Scrum Master and therefore "obey orders"
            from the ScrumMaster in Boss/Direct Report relationships.

            Metaphor: Federation. weak power structure:
            formed by units that surrender their individual sovereignty
            to a central authority but retain limited residuary powers
            i.e. are empowered to some degree. (Self-organization can be
            seen as "completely empowered" agents in a federation. Of
            course,
            at that point the federation ceases to exist.)

            In reality, and depending on maturity and ability, a given Scrum team
            can fall into a "continuum" between teams led by a ScrumMaster i.e.
            "delegation and empowerment" to fully self-organizing teams -- this
            being the end goal. And often, in practice, flipping back and forth:

            the team self-organizes whenever possible and only if necessary
            the ScrumMaster leads.

            In this view, the ScrumMaster is "insurance" -- in case the team falls
            short of self-organizing in the right way.

            Why is self-organization the end goal?

            Because it is the most efficient way to work i.e. less overhead,
            greater adaptability, faster response time, more "fun", etc.
            Nature provides plenty of examples of self-organization at work
            in efficient ways, downright down to our own proteinic autocatalysis.
            (More on this at: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?AgileRevolution)

            But self-organization can also be **safe** and **predictable**. Safe
            in the sense that the team members are dependable while "watching and
            assisting each other" to fulfill their common goals, and predictable
            in the sense that "jelled teams", (though this is somewhat redundant,
            teams are "jelled" by definition) deliver on their goals with
            high probability.


            David J. Anderson bravely asked:
            > Supplementary question, Ken is heavily advocating that
            > self-organization is at the heart of agile and anything which doesn't
            > self organize is by implication not agile.

            I would say that self-organization is definitely the goal of agile
            but as stated above that teams on their way to agility fall into a
            continuum between "being led" == federated agents ==
            "delegation and empowerment"... all the way to self-organization.


            David J. Anderson bravely asked:
            > Further to this, any certified scrum master
            > caught advocating something which is not
            > self-organizing can be ex-communicated from the SCM
            > community and qualification - my interpretation of
            > this from the Certified Scrum site "Any individual can
            > have their ScrumMaster Certification revoked by a
            > majority vote of existing ScrumMaster/2's if they
            > determine that the individual is not acting in the
            > best interests of agile processes as described in the
            > Agile Manifesto".

            I did not follow that "logic" from the scrumalliance.org
            web site. To me this was more like "Flipping the Bozo Bit" pattern,
            or providing a built-in immune system:

            it is the right that the other ScrumMasters have
            to eliminate "cancerous cells"

            Any organization or organism should have a clause like this.

            It is "healthy" ;-) literally....

            > Hence, I would like to hear whether Ken believes that
            > highly delegated and developer empowered processes do
            > or do not qualify as "agile" in his mind.

            I think they qualify as agile:

            .. on their way to self-organization as a natural progression.

            - Mike

            "Don't worry about what anybody else is going to do.
            The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

            - Alan Kay
          • jatsysinfife
            Hi, I m on Mike s side when it comes to the removal of CSM s who go against the essence of Scrum. Remember one of the core tools of Scrum is inspection and
            Message 5 of 10 , Oct 13, 2003
              Hi,

              I'm on Mike's side when it comes to the removal of CSM's who go
              against the essence of Scrum. Remember one of the core tools of
              Scrum is inspection and adaption, but their is adaption and then
              there is mutation!

              As a newly certified Scrummaster I am reassured to know there is a
              mechanism to remove individuals who are either abusing or misusing
              Scrum. More importantly, I like the concept of ensuring it doesn't
              fall into the wrong (corporate) hands to be abused, mutilated and
              generally turned into a "rational" money making machine for the big
              few :-).

              I also suspect a CSM will be given a warning that their behaviour is
              unacceptable, be instructed on how to rectify the situation and
              where necessary be offered additional support and training to ensure
              they return to the fold.

              The T&Cs of being a CSM are only there to protect Scrum, the CSMs
              who apply it and the teams who benefit from it. If you want to do
              something different then apply some other framework or methodology
              and don't sell it off as Scrum.

              Supplementary question for David: Would you expect an employer to
              put up with gross misconduct or would you be expecting to be warned
              or even fired?

              Chime, chime, chime from Scotland :-).



              Regards

              John

              John A Thomson - Certified Scrummaster
              Roundtrip Solutions Limited
              Scotland






              --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "David J. Anderson"
              <netherby_uk@y...> wrote:
              > I have a question primarily for Ken and Mike but
              > anyone else is welcome to chime in.
              >
              > How would you define the difference between your
              > notion of "self-organization" and the more establish
              > management practice of "delegation and empowerment"?
              >
              > Supplementary question, Ken is heavily advocating that
              > self-organization is at the heart of agile and
              > anything which doesn't self organize is by implication
              > not agile. Further to this, any certified scrum master
              > caught advocating something which is not
              > self-organizing can be ex-communicated from the SCM
              > community and qualification - my interpretation of
              > this from the Certified Scrum site "Any individual can
              > have their ScrumMaster Certification revoked by a
              > majority vote of existing ScrumMaster/2's if they
              > determine that the individual is not acting in the
              > best interests of agile processes as described in the
              > Agile Manifesto".
              >
              > Hence, I would like to hear whether Ken believes that
              > highly delegated and developer empowered processes do
              > or do not qualify as "agile" in his mind.
              >
              > Regards,
              >
              > David
              >
              >
              > =====
              > David J Anderson
              > Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
              > http://www.agilemanagement.net/
              >
              > __________________________________
              > Do you Yahoo!?
              > The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
              > http://shopping.yahoo.com
            • David J. Anderson
              Thanks Mike! This was really useful. I had an original purpose in asking. I m going to be writing a regular column at the Borland Developer Website called
              Message 6 of 10 , Oct 14, 2003
                Thanks Mike! This was really useful.

                I had an original purpose in asking. I'm going to be
                writing a regular column at the Borland Developer
                Website called "agile management" and I will be
                pushing a light touch management style full of
                delegation and empowerment. I wanted to better
                understand how the Scrum community felt about that
                position.


                I want to examine the self-organization thing a little
                more as I can understand your motivation - "it's the
                cheapest way to do things".

                You talk about federated government as more like
                delegation. Consider how the EU is organized compared
                with the US. In fact, the EU is closer to the
                Confederate model over which the US fought a civil
                war.

                The EU model is a natural progression from the Nation
                State model. Nation States are arguably
                self-organizing but there is a problem - they all have
                different and selfish goals.

                So the idea with self-organizing seems to be that each
                part works independently but they all have a (perhaps
                unknown to them) common goal.

                Consider the political spectrum in the US - its a
                federated government but within that there are two
                schools of thought - Repulicanism and Democratism. The
                first is more aligned with the Confederate model of
                less government, less central planning and more
                delegated power. The latter is for central government,
                central planning and less delegation. However, all of
                this is within a highly capitalist regime which
                encourages independent goals.

                I state all of this as background to where I want to
                take management of software engineering (in an agile
                world) - that is, away from central planning and
                central control and towards less management, less
                control, less planning and more delegated authority.

                However, what I fail to see is how to bridge the gap
                to self-organization and still maintain both a fast
                response to change a way of focusing on the correct
                goal.

                By response to change I mean simply that evolution
                takes a long time.

                I feel that leadership, vision and management will
                alwqays be necessary.

                David

                --- Mike Beedle <beedlem@...> wrote:

                David J. Anderson bravely asked:
                > How would you define the difference between your
                > notion of "self-organization" and the more
                establish management
                > practice of "delegation and empowerment"?


                I think they qualify as agile:

                .. on their way to self-organization as a
                natural progression.

                - Mike



                =====
                David J Anderson
                Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                http://www.agilemanagement.net/

                __________________________________
                Do you Yahoo!?
                The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
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              • David J. Anderson
                I see this as a largely irrelevant (to this thread) and perhaps rhetorical question, so, sorry but I won t be replying. The intent of the original question (as
                Message 7 of 10 , Oct 14, 2003
                  I see this as a largely irrelevant (to this thread)
                  and perhaps rhetorical question, so, sorry but I won't
                  be replying.

                  The intent of the original question (as Mike point's
                  out 'bravely asked") was to clarify the boundary and
                  the sharpness of its definition - not to challenge
                  whether there should be boundaries or to question the
                  measures taken for exceed them.

                  Cordially,

                  David



                  --- jatsysinfife <john@...> wrote:

                  Supplementary question for David: Would you expect an
                  employer to
                  put up with gross misconduct or would you be expecting
                  to be warned
                  or even fired?



                  =====
                  David J Anderson
                  Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                  http://www.agilemanagement.net/

                  __________________________________
                  Do you Yahoo!?
                  The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
                  http://shopping.yahoo.com
                • Ron Jeffries
                  ... Similarly, I will not be replying to the above. ;- Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com It is a bad plan that admits of no modifications. -- Publius Syrus
                  Message 8 of 10 , Oct 14, 2003
                    On Tuesday, October 14, 2003, at 1:21:59 PM, David J. Anderson wrote:

                    > I see this as a largely irrelevant (to this thread)
                    > and perhaps rhetorical question, so, sorry but I won't
                    > be replying.

                    Similarly, I will not be replying to the above. ;->

                    Ron Jeffries
                    www.XProgramming.com
                    It is a bad plan that admits of no modifications. -- Publius Syrus (ca. 42 BCE)
                  • Boris Gloger
                    Only my 2c. You can not bridge the gap... Self organization is something that can not be enforced. That is the nature of self organisation. Nobody knows when a
                    Message 9 of 10 , Oct 14, 2003
                      Only my 2c. You can not bridge the gap...

                      Self organization is something that can not be enforced. That is the
                      nature of self organisation. Nobody knows when a systems starts to be
                      self organized.

                      A system is not aware about the fact that it is self organized, because
                      a system can not observe itselfes. (oh je --- I hope my English is good
                      enough to explain all this loops,...)

                      Transfered to Scrum ... only the Scrum Master is able to see, when the
                      people in the systems starts to act in a self organized way, because he
                      is an outsider to the system.

                      Ken described this, when he described the day of a Scrum Master. Hesaid
                      in Edinburgh, that a Scrum Master starts with observation of the team:
                      How do the come in the office. What is the mood. How is the atmosphere,
                      what is to say about the jokes, what do the talk, ... - So a Scrum
                      Master is something like an Observer is a "Teilnehmender Beobachter"
                      (An observer who is part of the social group he tries to observe). This
                      is a very tricky and complex role, because you can break the starting
                      self organization by leading. On the other hand, a Scrum Master leads.
                      In the role you have as a Scrum Master you are a leading person. The
                      only question is in which way.

                      --- I hope I get this though through you.

                      Boris

                      On Tuesday, October 14, 2003, at 07:17 PM, David J. Anderson wrote:

                      > However, what I fail to see is how to bridge the gap
                      > to self-organization and still maintain both a fast
                      > response to change a way of focusing on the correct
                      > goal.
                    • Mike Beedle
                      ... David: Good goals. As in agile thinking, and GNU :-), less is more. ... I agree, well-directed stable 100% self-organization all the time , while possible
                      Message 10 of 10 , Oct 14, 2003
                        David J. Anderson wrote:
                        > I state all of this as background to where I want to
                        > take management of software engineering (in an agile
                        > world) - that is, away from central planning and
                        > central control and towards less management, less
                        > control, less planning and more delegated authority.

                        David:

                        Good goals. As in agile thinking, and GNU :-), less is more.


                        David J. Anderson wrote:
                        > I feel that leadership, vision and management will
                        > always be necessary.

                        I agree, "well-directed stable 100% self-organization all
                        the time", while possible to attain, is a lofty goal, almost
                        an ideal so to speak.

                        In "real life" I would agree, as you said that varied doses
                        of leadership, vision and management will always be necessary in
                        Scrum or other agile methods, if only to help the team out of
                        trouble, or to guide it in the right direction when necessary,

                        - Mike
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