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Scrum and Career Ladder

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  • Mark McCain
    One of the issues I have been struggling with is how we setup a career ladder in companies that use Scrum? Management has asked me to help them develop career
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 26, 2003
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      One of the issues I have been struggling with is how we setup a career ladder in companies that use Scrum? Management has asked me to help them develop career paths in a new consulting enagagement I am doing.  Im not that familiar with career ladders so Id appreciate any help with this.
       
      With self organizing teams it seems that less management is needed, so how does one advance in their career to the bigger bucks of management?  Or does everyone here want to be a career cubicle dweller?
       
      Can existing traditional PM's become Scrum-masters and will they be happy in their new role?  If a scrumaster isnt a programmer, doing testing or writing documentation, is being a full time scrum master going to be a satisfying role for them.  What kind of person is best suited to be a scrum master.   Im particularly interested in hearing from any scrum masters in this group.  What was your previous role and what do you do know?  How many hats do you wear and what are they.
       
      Mark
       


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    • PaulOldfield1@compuserve.com
      (responding to Mark) ... One of the problems you probably need to overcome is that the value of everything is typically set by managers, and they tend to
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 27, 2003
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        (responding to Mark)

        > With self organizing teams it seems that less
        > management is needed, so how does one advance
        > in their career to the bigger bucks of management?
        > Or does everyone here want to be a career cubicle
        > dweller?

        One of the problems you probably need to overcome
        is that the value of everything is typically set by
        managers, and they tend to overvalue their own
        worth relative to everyone else.

        Once everyone gets into their heads that production
        is important, and whoever directly adds value is valuable,
        then the managers' jobs are to facilitate the
        producers' work. The ideas of a career ladder
        will be a bit different after this paradigm shift, so
        it might be better to shift the ways of thinking first.

        Selected 'war stories' from "Lean Software Development"
        may help in changing attitudes.

        This is all IMHO, elicit other opinions.

        Paul Oldfield
        www.aptprocess.com
      • Bryan Zarnett
        Why is there still a need for a career ladder in an Agile-based organization? In one organization, the career ladder allows everyone to be a team lead
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 27, 2003
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          Why is there still a need for a career ladder in an Agile-based organization? In one organization, the career ladder allows everyone to be a team lead regardless if they have the qualities to properly communicate and actual lead a team effectively. In a non-hierarchal organization that should extend from an Agile organization, if their a need for some a career ladder and what is hoped to be gained from it? More training? Better education? Those aspects would seem silly?  Better titles? Are they required? If it's assocaited to finances, I'm not sure this is a reasonable requirement.
           
          Cheers,
          Bryan


          From: PaulOldfield1@... [mailto:PaulOldfield1@...]
          Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2003 4:37 AM
          To: INTERNET:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Scrum and Career Ladder

          (responding to Mark)

          > With self organizing teams it
          seems that less
          > management is needed, so how does one advance
          > in
          their career to the bigger bucks of management?
          >  Or does everyone
          here want to be a career cubicle
          > dweller?

          One of the problems you probably need to overcome
          is that the value of everything is typically set by
          managers, and they tend to overvalue their own
          worth relative to everyone else.

          Once everyone gets into their heads that production
          is important, and whoever directly adds value is valuable,
          then the managers' jobs are to facilitate the
          producers' work.  The ideas of a career ladder
          will be a bit different after this paradigm shift, so
          it might be better to shift the ways of thinking first.

          Selected 'war stories' from "Lean Software Development"
          may help in changing attitudes.

          This is all IMHO, elicit other opinions.

          Paul Oldfield
          www.aptprocess.com


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        • Jim.Hyslop
          ... Why must all careers advance to management? Why must management be paid more than technical staff? I once worked with a manager who was more than happy to
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 27, 2003
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            Mark McCain [mailto:xtremepm_2003@...] wrote:
            > With self organizing teams it seems that less management is
            > needed, so how does one advance in their career to the bigger
            > bucks of management? Or does everyone here want to be a
            > career cubicle dweller?
            Why must all careers advance to management? Why must management be paid more
            than technical staff? I once worked with a manager who was more than happy
            to be paid less than the top, experienced technical people whom he managed -
            because he recognized the relative value of their work.

            Some of the more enlightened technical firms realize that you *CAN* continue
            to pursue a technical career path, and get big bucks, without having to
            become a manager. Not everyone has the desire or the skills or perhaps the
            temperament to be a manager. The sooner more people - especially managers -
            realize this, the better.

            The phrase "career cubicle dweller" sounds a lot like the pejorative "bottom
            dweller", making it sound like you don't have very much respect for those
            who do the actual work of putting things together.

            --
            Jim Hyslop
            Senior Software Designer
            Leitch Technology International Inc. (http://www.leitch.com)
            Columnist, C/C++ Users Journal (http://www.cuj.com/experts)
          • J. B. Rainsberger
            ... This is pure speculation. I am not a manager. What is the role of the lowest-level manager of an Agile team? If we assume that that person is a Scrum
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 27, 2003
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              sMark McCain wrote:

              > With self organizing teams it seems that less management is needed, so
              > how does one advance in their career to the bigger bucks of management?
              > Or does everyone here want to be a career cubicle dweller?

              This is pure speculation. I am not a manager.

              What is the role of the lowest-level manager of an Agile team? If we
              assume that that person is a Scrum Master, then what happens when there
              are six projects and six Scrum Masters?

              Apparently, we need a seventh Scrum Master treating the six projects as
              one project with parallel backlogs. What happens when there are six
              meta-projects and six meta-Scrum Masters?

              Apparently, we need a seventh meta-Scrum Master...

              The Scrum-Mastering skills are the same. What changes are the materials.
              For Level 1, it's code, tests, designs. For Level 2, it's departmental
              strategy. For Level 3, it's strategy for an entire business function.
              For Level 4, it's strategy for an entire lab....

              "Rising up" has to do whether you make sound judgements with more
              "expensive" materials, I guess.
              --
              J. B. Rainsberger,
              Diaspar Software Services
              http://www.diasparsoftware.com :: +1 416 791-8603
              Let's write software that people understand
            • Robert Henley
              This depends deeply on how your organization is already structured. If you have an existing functional organization that assigns people into projects, then the
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 30, 2003
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                This depends deeply on how your organization is already structured. If you have an existing functional organization that assigns people into projects, then the existing career ladders within each functional group can remain unchanged: developers become senior developers become principle developers become architects and so on.
                 
                If your organization is totally project-focussed, however, developing a career ladder is a challenge, and as others have pointed out, not necessarily a good idea. Some of the best government consulting organizations have long had only one title: Member of Technical Staff. This allows them to assign people to do whatever needs doing without regard to title or "career ladder." Scrum would merely perpetuate this.
                 
                In this kind of situation, I would suggest using pay grades instead of titles, and tying those pay grades to demonstrable levels of technical (and/or managerial) competance.
                 
                And in a project-focussed organization, the real plum in a lot of cases isn't pay, but what project you get to work on. The most important projects get the best people, and the people on them know it.
                 
                On the whole, I suggest at least two tracks of career development: increasing technical skill, and increasing "management" responsibility. The "management track" may have two rungs on it -- worker and ScrumMaster -- but it gives people a chance to choose the direction they want their careers to go. And on reflection, there are more shadings of ScrumMastery: reflecting the degree and kinds of problems that they can help teams overcome, as well as how much they still contribute technically. (I'm not sure that represents a "ladder", but there's certainly room for an individual to find their place.) There is a third career direction that may be important as well: Product Owners. They deserve a career track of their own, reflecting their depth of product and market knowledge and their ability to work well with teams.
                 
                Also consider that some people may work best when rotated through a role as ScrumMaster. It can be a "burnout" job for some, and then they'll want to return to individual contribution before doing it again. And there are some people who can fill both roles well and like the variety. These people are key resources and need to be fairly compensated and recognized. That doesn't work well in a "ladder"-driven organization unless you can be on several ladders at once. I think the real goal of career development has to be to fairly compensate and recognize people while giving them opportunities to grow in whatever direction they wish. So there may be more to it than a set of linear ladder steps.
                 
                Your best resources in this area are actually HR professionals. You might want to talk this over with the ones in your company now, and any of your acquiantance. If they understand the situation, and have inventive, open minds, they can give you a wealth of relevant knowledge and research. The HR literature is another resource if you don't have the right people to talk to. 
                 
                Congratulations on tackling a tough nut; please let us all know what you end up with.
                 
                Good luck,
                Robert Henley
                Software Architect
                Certified ScrumMaster
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2003 8:19 PM
                Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Scrum and Career Ladder

                One of the issues I have been struggling with is how we setup a career ladder in companies that use Scrum? Management has asked me to help them develop career paths in a new consulting enagagement I am doing.  Im not that familiar with career ladders so Id appreciate any help with this.
                 
                With self organizing teams it seems that less management is needed, so how does one advance in their career to the bigger bucks of management?  Or does everyone here want to be a career cubicle dweller?
                 
                Can existing traditional PM's become Scrum-masters and will they be happy in their new role?  If a scrumaster isnt a programmer, doing testing or writing documentation, is being a full time scrum master going to be a satisfying role for them.  What kind of person is best suited to be a scrum master.   Im particularly interested in hearing from any scrum masters in this group.  What was your previous role and what do you do know?  How many hats do you wear and what are they.
                 
                Mark
                 


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              • Deb
                ... career ladder in companies that use Scrum? It s important to have a way to tie remuneration to work done... it s one of the satisfactions we earn from our
                Message 7 of 8 , Dec 1, 2003
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                  --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Mark McCain
                  <xtremepm_2003@y...> wrote:
                  > One of the issues I have been struggling with is how we setup a
                  career ladder in companies that use Scrum?

                  It's important to have a way to tie remuneration to work done... it's
                  one of the satisfactions we earn from our work. But I associate the
                  concept of "Career Ladder" with the Peter Principle... is there a
                  more flexible, more "agile" metaphor we could use? I find "career
                  path" equally troublesome. Both implicitly contain a "right" and
                  a "wrong" direction in which to be moving... but in my experience,
                  the best moves can sometimes be sideways.

                  In an agile team, people are encouraged to find their "niche", and a
                  niche well-filled is more valuable than many fancy job titles. And
                  over time, niches will come and go, just as technologies and
                  lifecycle stages do. I think there is a difficulty mapping to such
                  linear metaphors from within the somewhat chaotic, "emergent" nature
                  of agile teams.

                  Is there some kind of organic metaphor can we use?

                  - deb

                  from: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language:
                  Fourth Edition. 2000.

                  Peter Principle, NOUN: The theory that employees within an
                  organization will advance to their highest level of competence and
                  then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are
                  incompetent.

                  ETYMOLOGY: After Laurence Johnston Peter (1919┬ľ1990).
                • PaulOldfield1@compuserve.com
                  ... Scott Ambler s concept of a Generalising Specialist may be pertinent here; one s knowledge becomes both broader and deeper as time progresses, becoming
                  Message 8 of 8 , Dec 1, 2003
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                    >
                    > (Deb)
                    >
                    > In an agile team, people are encouraged to find their "niche", and a
                    > niche well-filled is more valuable than many fancy job titles. And
                    > over time, niches will come and go, just as technologies and
                    > lifecycle stages do. I think there is a difficulty mapping to such
                    > linear metaphors from within the somewhat chaotic, "emergent"
                    > nature of agile teams.
                    >
                    > Is there some kind of organic metaphor can we use?

                    Scott Ambler's concept of a "Generalising Specialist" may be
                    pertinent here; one's knowledge becomes both broader
                    and deeper as time progresses, becoming more flexible
                    and more generally useful by learning the basics of a broad
                    range of skills, while also becoming more expert in a few
                    specialisations. Perhaps the concept of progression from
                    Apprentice through Journeyman to Master is appropriate,
                    without specifying those topics in which one may become
                    master.

                    Paul Oldfield
                    www.aptprocess.com
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