Artificial intelligence (AI) could replace the need for human Agile coaches and Scrum Masters in the near future.
I ran 3 complex coaching scenarios with ChatGPT. The response convinces me Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters will not add value — at least most of the run-of-the-mill ones.
As Agile coaches and Scrum Masters, our primary role is to facilitate the adoption and continuous improvement of Agile practices within an organization. We work with teams to help them become more agile, and we coach them on how to effectively deliver value to their customers through the use of Agile methodologies.
With the recent advances in artificial intelligence and natural language processing, I can’t help but wonder if our role as Agile coaches and Scrum Masters will soon become redundant. In this article, I’ll share my experience running three complex coaching scenarios using ChatGPT, and how the results have convinced me that Agile coaches and Scrum Masters may not add much value in the near future — at least for the “run-of-the-mill” ones.
Before I go into the details of my experience with ChatGPT, it’s important to also note that I am not saying that all agile coaches and Scrum Masters will become obsolete. There will always be a need for highly skilled, experienced coaches and trainers who can bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. However, I do believe that ChatGPT will make it possible for many organizations to get the same level of coaching and training without having to rely on human coaches and trainers, at least for the more run-of-the-mill tasks.
But before we dive into the scenarios, let’s quickly go over what ChatGPT is and how it works.
ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses the GPT-3 (Generative Pre-training Transformer 3) language model developed by OpenAI. It’s an advanced AI system that is capable of generating human-like text by predicting the next word in a sequence based on the context of the previous words.
To use ChatGPT, you simply type in a message and the chatbot responds with a prediction of what you might say next. You can then continue the conversation by typing in your response, and ChatGPT will generate a new prediction based on your input.
So, how does this relate to Agile coaching and Scrum Mastering? Let’s take a look at the three scenarios I ran to find out.
You are a project manager in an account that has two scrum teams that work on the same product. Both teams have average velocity in the range of 30–40 points. Each sprint is two weeks long. A new change request arrives. The initial estimate is about 200 points. The Customer expects it will be done by Christmas, two sprints away. The executive to whom you report has set a meeting for tomorrow. How can you prepare for this meeting?
As a project manager, there are a few key things you can do to prepare for a meeting with the executive to discuss a new change request:
Review the change request in detail to understand the scope of work and the estimated effort.
Review the capacity of each scrum team to determine if they have the capacity to take on additional work within the given time frame.
Based on the capacity of the teams and the estimated effort for the change request, determine if it is feasible to complete the work by Christmas.
If it is not feasible to complete the work by Christmas, consider alternative options such as: 1) Prioritizing the work and delivering a subset of the functionality, 2) Adding additional resources to the teams , and 3) Extending the timeline for delivery
Prepare a presentation or report that summarizes the change request, the estimated effort, the capacity of the teams, and any alternative options or recommendations.
Practice presenting the information to ensure that you are able to clearly and concisely convey the key points to the executive.
One of your 2 scrum teams is in fire fighting mode always. Eventually they meet commitments but after a struggle. You dig deeper and find the SM — Mark does not do a structured daily standup. The retrospective is also a mere formality. You summon Mark, but he responds, “My team all sits around me whole day so why do I even need a standup”. Mark is the senior most technical expert in the team and he knows all the problems and their solutions. Is there a problem? If no, why not? and if yes why? and what could be the solution?
There is a problem with the way Mark is running the standups and retrospectives. Standups are an important part of the Scrum framework and serve several important purposes.
First, standups help to ensure that team members are aligned and working towards the same goals. By having a structured daily check-in, team members can share their progress, any blockers they are facing, and any support they need from their colleagues. This helps to ensure that the team is working efficiently and effectively.
Second, standups help to identify problems and issues early on, so that they can be addressed before they escalate into bigger issues. By having a regular check-in, team members can bring up any problems or concerns they have, and the team can work together to find solutions.
Finally, standups help to build trust and transparency within the team. By having a regular check-in where everyone is accountable for their work, team members can feel more connected and supported by their colleagues.
As for the retrospectives, they serve as an opportunity for the team to reflect on what went well and what could be improved in the previous sprint. This helps to identify areas for improvement and plan for future sprints.
In short, not having structured standups and retrospectives can have negative impacts on the team’s productivity, communication, and trust.
As for a solution, you could try sitting down with Mark and explaining the importance of standups and retrospectives in the Scrum framework. You could also provide him with some resources or training on how to effectively facilitate these meetings. Additionally, you could try setting up some structured standups and retrospectives for the team to follow and see if that helps to improve the team’s performance.
You are a project manager and get additional responsibility for another product that has two scrum teams on top of the two you already manage. You realize one of the SMs also wears the PO hat. You ask about this to the outgoing project manager — Shelly. She says they never approved the budget. This is a small product no one cares about. You talk to the program manager. He says he does not understand what a PO does differently than a SM and moreover says, feel free to get one without increasing the overall budget. How do you handle this scenario as a project manager?
As a project manager, it is important to ensure that the project has the necessary resources and support to be successful. In this case, it sounds like the product you have been given responsibility for does not have a dedicated product owner, which could potentially impact the effectiveness of the scrum teams.
One option would be to speak with the program manager again and explain the role of the product owner and the importance of having one for the success of the project. You could also suggest ways to potentially reallocate resources within the existing budget to allow for a dedicated product owner.
If the program manager still resists the idea of adding a product owner, you could consider reaching out to higher level management to advocate for the importance of having a dedicated product owner. It may also be helpful to gather data and examples of how having a dedicated product owner has benefited other projects in the past.
Ultimately, it will be important to find a solution that ensures the project has the necessary resources and support to be successful, while also respecting the constraints of the budget and the program manager’s decisions.
In my experience, ChatGPT was able to provide a coaching conversation response in a way that was both engaging and effective. It was able to provide tailored responses to the specific needs and challenges of each situation.
One of the biggest advantages of ChatGPT is its ability to work with individuals and teams in real-time, regardless of location. This makes it a highly convenient and cost-effective option for organizations that need to provide agile coaching and training to large numbers of people, or that have team members in different parts of the world.
I believe that it means that we need to start thinking about how we can add value beyond the tasks that ChatGPT is able to perform. We need to focus on the areas where we can truly differentiate ourselves and provide unique insights and expertise that ChatGPT cannot replicate. This might include things like coaching on more advanced topics, providing mentorship and leadership development, or helping organizations to build and sustain a culture of continuous improvement.
ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach agile coaching and training, and I believe that it will make many agile coaches and Scrum Masters redundant within the next two years. This doesn’t mean that all agile coaches and Scrum Masters will become obsolete. Instead, it means that we need to focus on the areas where we can add the most value and differentiate ourselves from the chatbot.
Hrishikesh is a Director, Financial Services BU at Capgemini. He has 19+ years of experience in IT software industry playing high responsibility roles as Agile Transformation Lead, Agile Coach, Program Manager, Delivery Manager, Technical Project Manager, Technical Lead & Software Engineer. Hrishikesh is passionate about building high performing teams, taking individuals and teams on a journey of excellence and satisfaction. His vision of Agile is not just about implementing effective, efficient and lean processes, but transforming people’s mindsets – to deliver better ROI and real business benefits. Hrishikesh holds a Bachelor of Engineering, Production Engineering from VJTI, University of Mumbai.