Scrum in Stories: Severus Snape
In February, I wrote the first example post about Sam Gamgee for Hero Feedback applied to a Scrum Role. I asked for ideas on Twitter whom else to write about and Allan Kelly proposed Severus Snape, Professor for Potions (and later Defense against the Dark Arts) at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter book series.
— allan kelly (@allankellynet) January 14, 2014
Hero Feedback is a feedback frame that Steve Holyer and I developed based on a kind of feedback used in Temenos. We use a hero from a story to help another human being discover new patterns in how they live their life and tell them what they mean to us. Applying it to the Scrum Master role serves as an example how to use the feedback, as well as an explanation of what being on a Scrum team with that interest might be like.
Professor Snape is not like your common Scrum Master, as he’s not part of a team. He rather works on the greater context, and his assignment comes directly from the boss. Taking the school as a metaphor for an organisation, and Harry and his friends as a team pursuing the goal of defeating Voldemort, I’ll treat Snape as an unofficial organisational Scrum Master.
How is Professor Snape Successful?
- Professor Snape saves Harry from threats and assaults multiple times and delivers unexpected help when all hope seems lost.
- Professor Snape has almost unlimited magical skills, especially in fighting and defense, healing and potions. Even the boss asks for his help. Ok, only the boss does …
- Professor Snape has inside knowledge about plans of the competition which he shares with the boss.
- Professor Snape frequently creates cunning and mean challenges so that the team makes leaps in learning. (That was hard to frame in a positive way 🙂 )
- Professor Snape has a loving heart and high integrity (and he hides both very well).
- Professor Snape works for the greater goal and doesn’t care about personal reputation or gain as long as he’s helping the overall goal.
- Professor Snape successfully disguises his true intentions so that his play succeeds in the end.
How does Professor Snape Sabotage His Success?
- Professor Snape sacrifices his life for the success of the project.
- Professor Snape rarely (if at all) taps into the collaborative potential of a team.
- Professor Snape works in disguise and therefore appears to be on the wrong side of almost everybody. Most people don’t trust him and therefore sabotage what he does. As many of his actions serve his disguise rather than his goal, that’s not a problem in the end. Yet it creates collateral damage on the way, leading him to damage the trusting culture at Hogwarts.
- Professor Snape puts the needs and wants of the system above his own and everybody else’s. He doesn’t live to get any appreciation for the good things he’s done, and meets a lot of personal resentment and resistance on the way.
I’m surprised by how many of these patterns I recognise in my own past behaviour. I’ve been daring and polarising for a good cause, and it never worked out well in the end. I’m grateful I didn’t go as far as he did.
How about you? Which patterns do you recognise in yourself and others?
What else in Professor Snape’s story reminds you of a Scrum Master, and may help our understanding of a Scrum Master? Who else would be a good role model—a character from this story or any other? Do you find this helpful? Would you like me to write more “hero models” like this one?.