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When I joined 10Clouds over two years ago, the company looked completely different compared to its current size and business performance. There were only three Project Managers (including me) working in a very friendly, yet a bit unstructured environment. My first challenge was to figure out how to eliminate the chaos factor without sacrificing the casual atmosphere and make Scrum work both for clients and teams.
Personally, I must say I love working in Scrum for its clarity and intuitiveness. Even my 9-year old kid got into planning his activities using a Scrum board, which shows how versatile this methodology is. But, no matter if you choose Scrum, Kanban, XP (Extreme programming) or Lean, it’s important to realise that these are merely guidelines, not commandments. You must remember to keep a healthy balance between structuring your team’s workflow and total freedom, and that’s what we do at 10Clouds.
Human-driven project management in Scrum
Flexibility in how we use Scrum stems from the individual approach to each client or project. You can’t expect people to follow your commands you like trained circus animals. Each of them has a different personality, working culture, and expectations. There’s no point in forcing a client to adjust to a strict project management code. Instead, you should find a common ground between a client’s way and your own. How do we do it?
It all starts with trust
Magic happens when you let people work independently, and your keeping in touch with them doesn’t restrain their own initiative. All it takes is to keep things clear from the very start:
- Establish and communicate clear guidelines to follow, with a degree of flexibility.
- Make sure everyone knows what you expect from them.
- Make team members aware that they are responsible for their decisions. You can’t and shouldn’t control their every move, but they need to realise that consequences will follow if they don’t comply with the pre-established procedures or rules.
- Don’t be afraid of new experiences! I had to get used to working remotely, which was quite a challenge for me. In the end, however, I acknowledged the comfort and flexibility it gives both the team and the client.
The trust a leader has in their team is only one side of a coin. The other one is when the team trust their leader, and the processes, rules and ideas that regulate the functioning of the team. When working with Scrum, you must understand the purpose of every guideline. Why there are regular meetings, why you create documentation in a specific way, and many more. If you know what your materials and tools are for, you will build a solid foundation for all people involved in the project.
What happens next? For now, we’re doing pretty well with seven project managers (and hiring new ones continuously). Our goal is to help employees – especially the newcomers – understand the way Scrum works at 10Clouds, so we’re about to run a series of workshops explore the topic better. Since more and more clients approach us, the team growth and knowledge sharing is a must to maintain the business performance we’ve had over the last year. We’ll certainly use Scrum to make it happen :).