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Gorilla in the Room

Page history last edited by Mark Levison 15 years, 7 months ago


Gorilla in the Room


1. Smells

  • One person (Sr Developer, Tech Lead, Executive) dominates conversation.
  • People won't speak until the Gorilla has spoken.
  • Team members defer to the Gorilla's opinion.


2. Discussion


You are not getting the wisdom of the team instead your getting the beliefs of a single person. Since self-organizing teams are the core of Scrum this is contrary to our principles.


3. Causes

  • The person often has knowledge that no one else has.
  • In the past many of the key decisions were made by this person.


4. Consequences

  • The team will not believe in the decisions made.
  • A real team (see Katzenbach and Smith: The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization) will never form.
  • Suboptimal decisions will be made since they will come from a single source.


5. Prevention


6. Example Remedies

  • Is the Gorilla a required attendee? Ask them to be absent for a meeting or two.
  • Ask the Gorilla to speak last on any issue.
  • Ask the Gorilla to ask questions rather than making statements.
  • In the case of Executives it may be necessary to ask to them to leave permanently since even without speaking they can have tremendous impact on the team.


7. Case Studies 


Credit: Inspired by Mark Wainwright and codified by Mark Levison

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