Moving to Agile: Inertia

2 minute read

I’ve been given the dubious honor of leading a team using Scrum as a “pilot” to see how well it works for the company. I’ve used Scrum before and had a good amount of success, so I feel comfortable with the process.

The single largest variable on any development team is the developers. I’ve found that moving to an Agile process like Scrum can really expose developers who’ve been hiding behind “traditional” processes.

Therein lies one of the biggest problems I’ve run into. One of my developers is not what you could by any means call a self starter. He has been able to get along well with the official process, which does not do a good job of tracking what developers are working on. Now that he’s been thrown into Scrum, it’s become quite obvious that he really doesn’t do anything until somebody nags him long enough to get him going.

This is where inertia comes in. This developer is a textbook example of an object staying at rest until the team lead can poke and prod enough to finally get him moving. His previous lead had simply taken it as granted that he would have to spend a certain amount of time micromanaging to get any work out of the developer. I think it’s a waste of time and energy for me to constantly remind him to pick a task and work it, but that’s what I’ve been reduced to doing. This week, for example, it took two days of nagging to get him to perform a ten minute refactor. (I would have done the refactor myself, but I have to trust that my team can do their jobs, too.)

I don’t know how to engage this guy. I can spend time collecting data and create metrics, but I don’t think that’s an effective motivator. What I’d really like to see is a commitment to the team and to the project that leads into a desire to pull his fair share. I don’t even know if these are feelings I can engender in this developer.

Motivation is an issue for teams using any kind of development process. Every team member reacts differently to various inputs. Some members like recognition, while others prefer a bonus. Some just want to be left alone so they can do the bare minimum to get by. I’m hoping this isn’t the eventual outcome with this developer.