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SCRUM: Balancing Autonomy with Accountability by Edwin Dando

· scrum,psd1

Organizations need to balance ⚖ autonomy and ACCOUNTABILITY when adopting agile ways of working to improve customer satisfaction and organizational performance.

Senior leaders feel frustrated and silenced by the agile culture that discourages 😐 them from asking important business questions.

Managers feel confused 😕 and helpless in the face of the agile culture that prevents them from getting the information they need to run the business.

The problem is that they have increased autonomy WITHOUT ❌ increasing accountability.

This is how a firm failed 📉 to achieve autonomy by giving too much freedom to their people without enough accountability, resulting in financial mismanagement and disruption.



They decentralized decision-making and control to provide autonomy but failed to establish the corresponding accountability.

They went from centralized accountability to no accountability at all.

Another firm failed to implement agile properly by removing accountability and transparency from their teams, leading to poor performance and a lack of business alignment.

This is due to naive and superficial understanding 🧸 of agile (#KindergartenAgile) by some people who promote it without considering the business context.


🤹‍ Agile is based on transparency.

Accountability is particular – in Scrum

* The Product Owner is accountable for value,

* The team is accountable for delivering done increments and

* The Scrum Master is accountable for the process.


👑 Governance remains vitally important.

It doesn’t disappear, it just changes, typically

⏪ from a classical model where the focus is on schedule, scope, budget, quality, and risk,

⏩ towards a modern model that focuses on value, risk, learnings, and then the next optimal move.


👨‍💼 Management remains important too.

It doesn’t disappear. It just changes

⏪ from a role that allocates work to people and then manages their progress,

⏩ to a role that focuses on growing people, providing honest feedback, and coaching them.


Business questions such as

  • “When do you think this will be done?” or
  • “How is cost tracking?” or
  • “Will we hit our launch date?”

are entirely fair and valid.


The difference is that we are moving

⏪ from a world where we pretended to be able to know all of this upfront and would lock it down in a plan and then govern to that plan regardless,

⏩ to one where we accept we don’t know it all up front and instead forecast these factors and continually update the forecast as we progress


Don’t accept Cupcake Agile.

Yes, autonomy plays a critical role in reshaping our workplaces, but don’t forget to balance autonomy with accountability.


#scrum #autonomy #KindergartenAgile