Ken Schwaber tells a story in his second book, Agile Project Management With Scrum, about a key contributor on a project who goes on vacation (hiking in Yellowstone park). Of course, as soon as he leaves, the critical component he is responsible for goes down in flames. The team is demoralized, the project is jeopardized, an impediment is born.
What would you do?
Apparently, if you have enormous brass balls and your name rhymes with “Schwaber”, you hire a former FBI agent as a private detective to go into Yellowstone and track down your missing developer and bring him back to the team to fix the problem. No joke (see page 117).
How many project leaders do you know would have that kind of audacity? I think there is a lesson for us in that story. All too often we turn away from problems that challenge our teams because they seem too great, too daunting to face. I think Ken is trying to tell us that a certain amount of boldness is required to lead great teams. You have to be willing to slap down the credit card and make things happen. That’s how you build a reputation for delivering success (and perhaps a little insanity). The story could easily have gone much differently, but I don’t think anyone would argue that Ken was committed to the success of that team.
I think he’s inviting us to be audacious too.