SLIDE21 Servant Leadership
Agile, Servant Leadership

The Servant Leaders “Circle of Life”

I just read this great article by Craig Stevens, on LinkedIn titled “There’s A Silent “I” in Team”.  It’s an incredible article cites that while there is an important element of team collaboration and teamwork, individuals are still at the core foundation of any team. Clearly this could be easily applied to scrum teams.

Stevens cites the critical element of Tuckman’s Model in team formation. This very mention drove me to think my approach to the initial formation of  scrum teams.

Tuckmans Model - Servant Leadership

At the initiation stages of any SCRUM project I work diligently with my newfound scrum team members to establish trust and rapport. I follow this approach;

1. Review Scrum Principles and ensure everybody is clear on what they mean. Everything we do in the context of this project must lean up against the principles. We are to challenge, experiment, inspect and adapt with them in mind.

2. Next I lay down the Vision of the Project – there is no complexity with words here except we will design, deliver and build the best solution!

3. Next each scrum team member develops their own “Journey Maps”.   There are 2 key benefits in doing this with the team.  One, it introduces them to each other in a manner that 9 times out of 10 we find some very interesting similarities and shared experiences. Second, I get to see a skills inventory for each individual. Here’s my journey map;

Agile - Core Team Journey Map

4. Now all the scrum team and I can see skills that we might be able to employ outside a team members specific area of expertise. For example, in my journey map, I’ve written several books, it’s likely that I might be able to contribute to any documentation required for project even thought I might be the individual responsible for customer design elements of a solution.

5. Finally, I move to the final approach in setting a scrum team development foundation firmly in place. “The Circle of Life” The truth is I can’t for the life of me recall where I picked this up or whether or not its actually referred to the circle of life. I’ve experimented and adapted it over the years.  What I do, is ask every individual on the scrum team to consider what they as individuals want to get out of the project. I ask them to consider what skill would they like to improve upon. To that end I ask them to draw out the following;

Scrum Master and Servant Leadership

In this case Francis wants to learn Graphic Design.  While I may not have time or budget to send him off to a training course, I might pair him up with our in house graphic designer for a day session so that he can pick up a few things. I recommend books, blog posts, articles etc, anything I can do to demonstrate that I truly care about his interest in graphic design.

My approach is simple.  If I invest in individual scrum team members their commitment and drive to contribute in a positive manner will lead to a higher overall performing team and hence a product, service or software that will deliver higher value than expected.

In short, focus on the individual, focus on the scrum team and they will in turn focus on what matters to our stakeholders.