Senior Managers: Why Scrum needs you to stop bullshi**ing.

 Everyone has a manager.

I get that.

Everyone has someone that they report into at some level.

Me I used to report to my dad.

My dad? to my mother.

My mother? To god.

C’mon seriously.

Even your CEO has a manager – the customer. (That’s for another blog)

Let me get to it.

I saw a head of a certain department working on a huge gant chart the other night before I left work.

“You do know that big old chart is 90 %wrong don’t you?”

“More likely 100%” he laughed back.


Concerning much?

The involuntary vomit touching the back of my throat after seeing a Gant chart in an ‘Agile’ environment was bad enough. But.

Having this ‘senior’ manager accept that this gant chart that he is spending time working on provides a useless & fake projection of the future -WHILST- finding it funny?

That’s another level of derangement.

“Yeah the CEO needs to see where we’re going, it’s really off but it’s something”

Don’t be that alarmed by such responses, I used to be shocked – not anymore.

Dan North put it perfectly:

“We are SO terrified of uncertainty – we would rather be wrong than uncertain”

How crazy is that.

We have senior managers who are their to radiate information upwards – to help those in the higher echelons (your sales director say) understand the progress made are not made by the Scrum team to manage expectation – BUT INSTEAD of feeding back with the truth to upper management – they decide to bullsh*t.


And you thought throwing up a Scrum board & writting some BDD Scenarios made us ‘Agile’?

Get the f**k out of here.

You can do all of the Scrum events & have the prettiest looking avatars on your board EVEN with a spiced up Kaizen – but if you ain’t doing the feedback of truth – then you’re just bullshi**ing yourself.

Don’t Confuse MOTION with PROGRESS.

The whole point of Scrum or anything half empirical is to say “hey we are going to do a little bit of something, see what happens & and then take the output and feed it back into our plans”.

To not honestly express the output of what has happened is the biggest mistake you can make,

The very thing that Scrum is built upon & in my view is NOT drilled home enough by those teaching Scrum courses.

Stop talking about the events & artifacts – let’s talk about the essence of what Scrum is.

Scrum is the art of the possible.

Inspect & adapt.

Do stuff. inspect that stuff. then adapt to that stuff.

How can your CEO or head of sales adapt if that senior manager who is meant to report up is not providing the true output of what we have inspected?

“Yeah looks like we can’t get to that feature set based on what we’re seeing with the complexity guys”

Great – now is the time for you Mr.Senior Manager to take that fact & go and tell anyone who has an expectation or has set a customer’s expectation in receiving that feature set.

Playing a game

Bullshi**ting as a senior manager through withholding information will only end up in misery.

The lies snow ball.

The stuff that is coming out of your sprint is not being feed upwards and now the expectations of the people at the top think everything is hunky dory.

Mr. Senior Manager is now under pressure to play catch up.

Meet command and control.

Mr. Senior Manager thinks getting ‘tougher’ on the Scrum team and telling the ScrumMaster that “they need to go faster and put in the extra time to make it happen” – that’ll make up for the work that didn’t come out of sprint 1, 2 & 3.

Micromanagement begins.

A good ScrumMaster locks horns with the Senior Manger & in the best case the Senior Manager is forced to go back and manage expectations openly.

In reality, that rarely happens.

I have seen this time and time again.

That Senior Manager is not feeding the truth back up top because maybe around the corner it’s bonus time.

Maybe he thinks he can get away it by forcing the team to ‘just make it happen’.

There are many naive reasons as to why such Managers feel the need to bullsh*t – but none of them, not one – have any good impact for the organisation or the product.

If you are a Senior Manager working in any software environment that involves a time box where stuff is done – stop bullshi**ng your peers, your boss & yourself.

Scrum needs you to be honest.

It needs you to say “this is what really happened at the end of our sprint, update your road map like this and manage your customers expectations”.

If the truth does not get back after the Sprint, you’re setting yourself up for a very messy situation.

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