Self managed teams vs. command and control style project management

One of the most powerful, challenging and subtle principles of the Scrum process is the notion of self managed teams.   It does not take the experience of too many scrum projects, programs, organizations, etc. before it becomes clear that this change is nothing short of a true paradigm shift!
In larger organizations, the well developed command and control management structure and culture does not prepare new scrum teams with the awareness, skills and confidence to easily adapt to working on self managed teams.   On the contrary, many of the cultural mores go against the principles, skills and techniques required when adopting self managed teams.  One concept that is often problematic is the notion that the team (and therefore all of the Scrum team members) is responsible and accountable for the results of each Sprint.  In many organizations, accountability is more likely to be avoided or ambiguously shared then fully and clearly embraced.

Therefore once the basic scrum process, ceremonies, etc. has been learned by the team, then the more subtle capabilities required by Scrum such as self management begin to become more visible and noticeable.

Common sense dictates that if organizations and scrum teams want to enjoy the potential order of magnitude productivity improvements of the Scrum process they need to migrate from the command and control style project management (PM becomes a constraint to the productivity of the team) to the self management style where many team members can share in the planning, facilitation, follow through, etc. for the team.  In this case much more work can be planned and completed by the team when it is not single threaded through a traditional technical PM.

Fortunately, newly forming Scrum teams that have effective leadership and facilitation will be able to adapt to the principles of self management, shared leadership, etc.  Some simple techniques to help the team understand and develop these skill can include rotating daily stand up facilitation, requesting that various team members share in the defining and updating of work tasks, and  where every possible rotate roles within the team, etc.

In addition to removing the single threaded constraint an even more powerful benefit is that once the team begins to master the self management principles and behaviors, the scrum team can better align itself and ride the energy and inspiration of a number of team members instead of always requiring the PM to lead and drive in this regard. The end result of this transformation (yes, I mean transformation) is significant and much more sustainable over the long team (Less individual burn out).

Cheers,
PR