As Gojko Adzic once mentioned, “If there is a Scrum Master, there must be Scrum slaves, too”. And what a fine time in the year to reflect on this quote, with Passover eve coming up this Friday.
From Slavery to Freedom
The Passover Haggadah and the biblical story tells us of Moses, who approached Pharaoh and demanded: “Let My People Go!”, turned a wooden stick into a snake, summoned the ten plagues, yada yada yada (I am cutting out parts irrelevant stuff for my story), crossed the Red Sea, and Hey Presto! The People of Israel became free! At last! Hurray!!!
Only it wasn’t like that.
The People of Israel spent another 40 years in the desert to cast off old habits, de-slave themselves, and become worthy of entering The Promised Land.
Woah! Imagine a 40 years change management plan! I wonder if Moses had a Gantt Chart for this. Most probably not. Instead, the acceptance criteria for the change was rather simple: When the People of Israel cease refusing to enter Canaan, only then will they be allowed to enter.
Let’s take a brief look at this change process, and what can we say about it:
The Israelite Change Management Highlights
- It started by what must have looked like two huge Waterfalls, on either side of the path.
- As the journey began, the People of Israel were fleeing away from their old managers, who had unrealistic demands from them. They felt like slaves!
- At the beginning of the journey, there was no time to prepare food or anything. They slept on the floor in tabernacles (temporary houses, kind of like sleeping in the office).
- And they ate leavened bread (kind of like ordering Pizza?)
- After a while, although the journey was very rough, they had ample food (Manna and Quail from heaven)
- It was hard being led towards the Promised Land, so leadership used (what seemed like) miracles to convince people to continue.
- At some point, almost everyone lost faith, and went off to believe in The Golden Calf, that they made for themselves (I knew that there was a Gantt Chart somewhere in this story!)
- But then came a 10 principles Manifesto – in the form of Tablets (yes, Moses was way ahead of his time!)
- During this journey, Moses kept focused on the vision. Yes, he was the very first Product Owner!
- His brother, Aaron, was responsible for the process of making progress towards the desired vision. Yes, Aaron was the very first Scrum Master!
- After reaching their goal, it took another 40 years to enter The Promised Land. Only to find out that they now need to learn how to fulfil their Purpose. Ask Joshua, he will tell you
Some takeaways from this story
- It is unrealistic to expect a short change management process. Maybe it will not take 40 years, but it will not take 3 months, too.
- When the change management process ends, there is always another one around the corner. Change never stops. You will never find the ultimate process, so get over it!
- It takes vision, leadership, inner-conviction, persistence, and guidance from someone bigger than you – even if you all know that the thing you do has never been done before.
- And take a Scrum Master with you. It may take a two-day workshop to be certified as a Scrum Master, but expect a much longer time to free the Waterfall Slaves.
- You may think that the Definition of Done just happens. Think again. The team’s manifesto (״The Tablets״) is in the best interest of the Product Owner. If you’re the Moses of your organization, make sure that you’ve got one, and everyone’s buy-in.