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A LESSON IN SERVANT LEADERSHIP

By Haim Deutsch • 1 Dec, 2016
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Today I had, as it does often occur to me, a conversation with a Scrum Master, Daniel, who participated in a training I gave some time ago.

It is always enriching to hear someone’s experience directly reported to me.

He told me that he, actually, was not yet acting as a Scrum Master, and currently only plays is role as a team member, but, he said, he has learned much looking at his own SM, Eran!

Daniel is working in a team which includes people from all around the globe: US, India, England, Israel.
Daniel’s SM, Eran, succeed to lead a great cohesive team despite of geographical distribution, culture differences and the fact that they had never met face to face.

So, I’ve asked him to explain.

“Eran is doing two astonishing things:

  • First, our daily meetings take 30 minutes.
  • Second, during all the meetings and, in particular, during our retrospectives, he is sharing his desktop showing a document in which he describes all what was said”

“Hum…”, I mumbled, “Thirty minutes?! Isn’t it too long for a daily meeting?” and I added: “I’m concerned by the fact that your SM is typing what is said, he CERTAINLY SHOULD NOT become the team’s secretary! Wouldn’t it be better that instead of sharing his desktop screen, all team members will activate their cameras so that they will be able to see each other?” I asked.

“No this is a bad idea!” He claimed.

“Ok, please explain..?” I continued

“First, our daily is at 5pm Israel time, which is 8am in the US and 8pm in India. Nobody would like to be seen in his bedroom dressed with pajamas  or before having a shower or his first cup of coffee…
In place of such inconvenience, he encourages ‘small talk’ to get us know each other better  and create friendship. That’s why our dailys are so long.” said Daniel.

“Also, we have difficulties to understand each other speaking, Laura speaks in heavy British accent and very fast, Ganesh has a strong Indian accent hard to understand, Jose ,the Texan guy, sometimes is “chewing” his words and some of the team members don’t understand my Israeli accent.
So, Eran, our SM, has decided to type everything which is told during the meetings, just like English subtitles, aligning everyone, thus allowing us to understand each other. He is not acting as the note taker, he is serving us, empowering us through our team building!”

“That’s Great!” I said.

Things are not as they seem to be, our servant leader showed real leadership, and broke the rules in the favor of the team.

So, personally I took off my hat, expressing my respect to Eran, the SM.

And, what about you? How do you tackle issues requiring ‘out of the Box’ thinking?

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