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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Oct 30, 2020

In this episode, Dan Neumann is joined by a frequent guest of his and AgileThought colleague, Quincy Jordan! Quincy is a Principal Transformation Consultant and has been with AgileThought for almost three years.


Together, they will be exploring when things are going so well that you just don’t notice that there are problems bubbling beneath the surface. They address what kind of problems show up when teams become complacent due to things going so well, how to spot these problems (and address them) before they start, and how to differentiate between when things are going “so well that you don’t notice” and actually being on the right path.


Key Takeaways

The problems that arise when things are going so well that you don’t notice that they’re not:

When a Scrum Master is doing super well in their role, those outside the team or the leaders in the organization begin to question if they really need the role

However, if you remove that Scrum Master when the team is doing great and maturing well, things will continue in a downwards trajectory (the same way a car does when a tire goes flat)

It’s the classic scenario of “you’ve done your job too well” and others don’t realize how valuable and important that is

Sometimes the role of Scrum Master role is switched up or rotated in a way that doesn’t fully fill it and the wheels eventually fall off

When things are going well those who suffer from a hero complex lose the opportunity to be the hero anymore   this can lead to situations such as:

When developers have an abnormal tolerance for tech debt (i.e. they are not paying as much attention to the quality of code or adhering to standards that are good for the team, which creates an abnormal amount of bugs that the team has to fix. Then, said developer jumps in as the hero)

I.e. Firefighters lighting fires to put them out

When things are going well there can be a tendency to start to question roles and processes (such as the Scrum Master role and the processes and organizational support that are in place to support the team/s)

When things are questioned, it can affect not only the team/s, but it also affects the organization as a whole

Both the team/s and the organization can become complacent if things are working so well

How to avoid getting trapped in this way of thinking:

Leadership should be constantly assessing whether or not they’re providing the right types of problems to solve

The team should be asking themselves if they’re looking at the right problems to solve

Is the team properly considering Horizons Two and Three if they are beginning to go down the path of the Three Horizons model?

Shift from “How much faster can the teams go?” and “How much more stuff can they deliver?” to “Are we delivering the right capabilities?”, “Are we delivering things customers want?”, and “Are we continuing to experiment and innovate?”

The wrong question is: “Can we get even more out of this team?” The right question is: “Can we make sure that we’re providing them with the right problems to solve?”; “Where can we, from a leadership standpoint, give more guidance to increase business value?”

How to differentiate between a mature and a complacent team:

Though they can sometimes look the same on the surface, a very complacent team will have far more carry-over stories than a mature team

Ask: ‘How well has this team challenged themselves in terms of their own velocity?’ and ‘Are they taking it upon themselves?’ A more mature team would exhibit these types of these behaviors as opposed to a complacent team

A more mature team makes time for continuous improvement and retrospectives whereas complacent teams make them cut them out or make them shorter

Mature teams dig deep and find opportunities to improve

Mature teams look below the surface and think more critically


Mentioned in this Episode:

Quincy Jordan

AgileThought Careers

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 101: “Are Scrum Masters Expendable?”

Three Horizons by McKinsey & Company

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, by John Doerr


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