A recovering command-and-control-aholic

Today I became painfully aware that my old behaviour as a traditional project manager still hasn’t left my system. Currently I’m assigned as an Agile Consultant for guiding an Agile transition at a financial product development agency. The primary goal is changing the mindset from task-driven towards value-driven, create alignment between the several teams and increase the ability to anticipate on changes. To fulfil this goal we’re creating several multi-disciplinair Scrum teams aiming to become ‘high-performing’ or more important: continuously improving themselves. 

The past month four teams have been formed and the upcoming two months another three teams will follow. Three months to form, storm, norm and perform seven teams is quite a challenge. The problem is that my solution for this challenge is completely contrary to the goals I’ve described earlier: teams that continuously improve themselves. This week I created an improvement backlog by myself with all the things I thought must to injected into the teams. Until a few hours before the retrospective I was actually planning to discuss my desired improvements with the teams with the idea to just implement them. Only the Gantt-chart was missing 🙂

Luckily before the retrospective I asked feedback from a colleague and he practically told me to throw away the sticky-notes containing my desired improvements. The horror! But then it struck me. This weekend I re-read the great book by Lyssa Adkins ‘Coaching Agile Teams’ and remember laughing quietly about some quotes in the third chapter ‘Master Yourself’. She makes the confession that she’s a recovering command-and-control-aholic. Recognising the example, but convinced it surely wouldn’t happen to me, I closed the book and started my new workweek… How wrong could I have been?

During the retrospective I decided to follow the advice Lyssa gives: I apologised to the team, explained what I was planning to do and why it was wrong and asked them to call me on my command-and-control behaviour. The team accepted my apologies and we had a good retrospective with improvements made up by the team itself. Hooray!

To wrap it up: the best start to deal with your own shortcomings is to be aware of them. With this in mind, it was a very valuable experience this week! Hope and know for sure more valuable experiences will follow!