Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Foreman has no Place in Scrum

I remember reading that Henry Ford T-model success came from the fact that the assembly line that he invented was able to produce 17 million of cars in less than two decades.

I also remember reading that his Detroit assembly plant hired employees from several different nationalities and around 50 different languages were spoken in the plant -something similar to the world software industry today. What make possible that all these people can work productively was Frederick Taylor invention: scientific management.

Scientific management is based on the principle that engineers -or foremen- study a process, optimized, and then teach workers how to do it. Deviations from the process are not allowed and creativity is limited at minimum. Quality is controlled on the base of how well workers sticked to the process and produced the expected results. Mechanization and mass production is the result of this management technique. Controlling and supervision is assigned to foremen that are appointed responsible from a group of workers and a portion of the production line.

This worked pretty fine for some decades until Japanese Toyota Production System changed the auto car industry forever. For starters this brought the idea of suppressing foreman and empowering teams.

It still strike me odd when somebody ask me about the best way to manage developers, Scrum principles are not about better management or better application of the scientific management. On the contrary, Scrum is about flat structures -no foremen- and creative thinking.

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