Today I came across a very thought provoking post about why scrum / agile doesn’t work in most of the company in Taiwan1. In essence, the author make a point that as a senior developer of the team, beside of coding features and improving infrastructure, he has to deal with many non-development duties such as mentoring junior developers and attending business meetings as developer representative. Doing these duties don’t count in the sprint and most of the time he had to work overtime and make up for the misses. This triggers a lot of comments, I am also in. I asked about how we should solve this problem and the author replied with one of the post he had written some times later.2
The reply is highlighting the responsibilities of managers and business owners. And this resonate with me too. I totally agree managers and business owners, lets call them stakeholders, should respect developer’s priority that supposed to be set by them or both before the sprint starts. As my role grows, I am now responsible for both. As a team lead, I am responsible for both my teammates and my platform. The health of both the team and the system are crucial to me. In addition, I am responsible to communicate with business owners and product managers about hitting product goals and maximizing positive business impacts. So far I didn’t experience any hardship in doing so. I got a few tricks that can share to fellow developers to overcome these challenges. Let me start by some tactics and close with some mindset change I have experienced.
Print out your calendar and actual work done last week
Stakeholders have other priorities and not necessarily have the mental mana to understand your situation if it is not clear enough. Print out your calendar in the sprint planning, explicitly carve out time to do code review, mentoring developers, interviewing, going to meet up to recruit, etc. This is a great way to start the conversation, I just don’t believe any business owners are willing to enslave his developers and get mediocre result from his investment in IT / software development.
Time’s up, Late talk more tomorrow.