Be prescriptive first to become Agile later?

Jose M. Ramirez
2 min readNov 13, 2022

There is a fairly general tendency in the Agile community to confuse the ideal state with the strategy; this confusion is inherited from applying “modern” methods of participatory management and innovative leadership.

Many Scrum Masters or Agile Coaches, when faced with opportunities for improvement in a team, opt for the “Agile” strategy of motivating the team to adopt the desired behavior or avoid the “anti-pattern” without being strong enough to make the change produced. This often leads to frustration and, in many cases, abandonment.

The Scrum Masters and Coaches must be leaders, authentic leaders. A leader is not an authoritarian boss but analyzes situations, identifies opportunities, and provides direction. A leader works according to his team so that each member, and therefore the team, is in the ideal situation for success.

This leadership must be exercised with passion and energy, without imposition, but with conviction. We can start by suggesting, but sometimes it is necessary to suggest or even indicate what can be better firmly. Sometimes it is necessary to be prescriptive, even closely follow-up, to demonstrate the benefits of a behavior.

The difference between this strategy and traditional bureaucratic management is that these techniques, which could be described as micro-management or hierarchical management, are not maintained over time but are used to create entropy and facilitate breaking unbeneficial habits.

The best way to deal with possible rejections is to approach the changes as experiments, support the decisions with data, agree on a monitoring time and evaluate the results and make any additional adjustments at the end of the agreed period.

An agile team must have delivery as its fundamental goal, but this goal cannot be achieved, much less maintained, if it is not accompanied by a constant desire to improve. This must be an internal motivation, but to reach that state, we must offer it as an external motivation.

The prize, and this must be made clear to the team, is to achieve a state of operation in which, as posed beautifully by Dan Pink, Autonomy — deciding the best way to do things — , Mastery — gaining the maximum possible expertise in what we do — , and Purpose — always be clear why we do what we do — be the drivers.

A Scrum Master or a Coach should not be afraid to be leaders; that is their duty; they are accountable for improving their teams, and they must use all available strategies to achieve it.

Jose M. Ramirez

Consultant, Photographer, Artist, Researcher, and Teacher —