Ruck’ing along … what have I learned from more than six months of dog fooding?


The analysis and discussion of the dog-fooding results of Ruck with Brian Blackman is ongoing and the article “Lesson’s learnt” is taking on shape.

Brian, our “Ruck Master” 🙂

We have had a few internal presentations and discussions on the topic and I have been pondering over one of the statements “to do Scrum you have to stick to all its rules” and especially one of the question “how do you get Rangers to do what they do, despite all the challenges?”. I disagree with the statement, because I strongly believe that every team and every environment is unique, making cherry picking of features, concepts and technologies a viable option to reacting to the increasingly changing ecosystems we have to contend with. The world of “Scrum-buts” is probably the most controversial and opinionated can-of-worms topic and therefore I would rather focus on the question.

The illustration above is an extract from the slides I recently presented to our team. We have been reading a number of books, such as “Leading Virtual Teams”, by Harvard Business Press, “The FIVE Dysfunctions of a TEAM”, by Patrick Lencioni and ”Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, by same author. All of these publications and many others are invaluable sources of nuggets and guidance, but so far none has been able to reveal the oracle for our unique Rangers ecosystem. As shown on the left we have to contend with a number of challenges some or all of which raise their ugly (or rather challenging) head in many of the Ranger projects. The dysfunction symptoms in the Rangers ecosystem also vary between the projects, but include most of the dysfunctions discussed by Patrick Lencioni in his books.

The illustration below is another extract from the same presentation, which summarises the five dysfunctions and the suggestive remedies.

Yeah, yeah we know all about the problems, the challenges and the suggested remedies … BUT how do you get Rangers to do what they do, despite all the challenges?” … you are most probably thinking.

The truth is, we have been focused on (blinded by) the challenges and finding solutions … we never took a step back to consider that the Ranger projects are already phenomenal initiatives and ecosystems.

Recently, while browsing the web on my way home, I stumbled over a great TED video on leadership … http://www.ted.com/talks/stanley_mcchrystal.html. It highlights the importance of “shared purpose”, “inversion of expertise”, “allow to fail but not be a failure” and “transparency”. This video made me think, because everything discussed within a military context, made perfect sense within the context of our information technology ecosystem as well.
… the web is filled with amazing information, videos, …

We often say that a Visual Studio ALM Rangers project recipe consists of buckets of passion for technology, in-the-field expertise and experience and a pinch of collaboration between the product groups, services, user education, partners and MVPs. What we never considered, is that the “passionate” leaders are actually the magic potion that fuels the engine room, gets everyone excited and committed and drives the project commitments home. The transparency, the clear objectives and scope and the known Rangers process are important spices, but the magic ingredient definitely seems to be the passionate leaders.

An example can be noticed with the latest two Rangers solutions, both of which have just come back from product group and product owner review. Although both had a clear objective and detailed Epics (menu) defined, the one barely had a scratch after the review, while the other resembled the amazing pictures that the space probe Messenger is sending back from Mercury. The difference is that the one had passionate leads who worked as one, whereas the other had a combination of passionate leads and leads who often worked in isolation … loosing the “shared purpose”?!?

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of WashingtonImage from Orbit of Mercury:Mercury's Colorful Limb

So, have we found the oracle or do we have the answer to the question asked above? No, but I believe that we have created a powerful community and that all the puzzle pieces will soon fall into place, thanks to the passionate and competent leaders that are embracing the Visual Studio ALM Rangers projects.

Watch this space … for more clarity … I just have to sort all my personal chaos and questions first.

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