Dealing With Rutsey, Bartman or Omarosa On Your Team

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Dealing With Rutsey, Bartman or Omarosa On Your Team

A Zone Leader looks at outlying personalities that have existed on prior teams and compares them to interesting not-so-famous celebrities.

· Agile Zone ·
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Like anything with longevity attached to it, the more time you spend doing something, the more time you encounter outlying situations that can be lesson learning opportunities. For this article, I am going to talk about three distinct and unique personalities I have encountered over the years.

The John Rutsey

Back in the 1960's, there was a Canadian by the name of John Rutsey. He loved hockey and music. Based upon his geographical location he became close friends with a classmate named Alex Lifeson. Eventually, their love of music spawned them to begin learning music themselves to the point where they joined forces with a guy named Geddy Lee and released a self-titled album for their band "Rush." John Rutsey was the first drummer of the band that consisted of guitar, bass and drums. Facing musical differences and health concerns, Rutsey left the band and was replaced with Neil Peart — which was the game changer for the band that continued to release albums and tour effectively for the next 41 years.

To this day, there are John Rutseys that appear on project teams. The team member who doesn't fit well with the current team, opting to stick to their own personal views and objectives over the shared vision of the team. Often times, they will leave the team soon and quickly, in order to try to find something better, something that lines up with their goals.

The John Rutsey persona could be an original team member responsible for prototyping a solution. As the team formed around this person, some of the design decisions were challenged, introducing friction with the original team member. A short time later, that persona opted to leave the project. Like the band Rush, the team recognized the inefficiencies and were able to take things to a higher level — reaching a greater degree of success without the John Rutsey persona keeping them from reaching their shared vision and goals.

The Steve Bartman

Steve Bartman cost the Chicago Cubs the opportunity to win the World Series (baseball) in 2003.

Well, not really.

At the time, the Cubs had a three run lead and there were still five outs remaining to win the game. During that same game, the Cubs held one game lead in the best-of-seven series. However, for scores of Chicago Cubs fans, when Bartman tried to catch a foul ball and interrupted the Cubs player from making the catch, he caused the team to give up eight consecutive runs...and then lose the next game.

Crazy, right?

The Steve Bartman is the scapegoat.

This is the unfortunate example of isolating blame to one individual — often times when that person really has less to do with the situation than the team whose performance was impacted. The good news is, I don't believe the Chicago Cubs players or team personnel actually blamed Bartman, it was the fan community at large.

With an Agile team, this would be similar to how the end-user community would opt to place blame on a shared service, when their feature team was ultimately responsible. For example, consider a scenrio where the DevOps team was blamed for something that was exposed by a required upgrade.  In reality the issue was the realization that the feature team that took a not-so-ideal design approach.

For the business users, they blamed the shared services team for crashing their application. However, it was the feature team that could have prevented the issue by adequately testing all aspects of the update and resolving any issues prior to the planned update being deployed.

The Omarosa

She was the member of the first season of The Apprentice and later became a political aide to President Trump. She is also a reality star celebrity who has been a part of programs like Celebrity Big Brother.

She is Omarosa

In every case, she maintains a spirit of "do whatever it takes to be on top."

In a narcissistic way, the Omarosa always tends to put the needs of one's self over those of the team...or really anyone else. This is the individual who is only engaged as much as possible to reach that next level of their career. Perhaps, it is the feature QA analyst who accepted the position only to find a way into a more prosperous position at the corporation.

Don't get me wrong, it is completely okay and expected to have a short-term and long-term goals established for your career. However, with the Omarosa, there is nothing that can hinder reaching the desired goal — including breaking social norms and even casting ethics aside. Like Omarosa has proved throughout her career, nothing is off limits to reach the next level.


For years, I have used the John Rutsey metaphor, even referring to myself in context to a music-making band I left in 1992. That band continued to make albums and play regional events for the next twenty years. The Steve Bartman situation always interested me, watching an entire fan base place blame on a person that did what probably 85% in his shoes would have done in that situation. Watching the events around Omarosa gave me the third example to inspire an acticle about personalities who reached modern lore status by their decisions and ensuing actions.

All three represent examples that can find their way into in Agile teams and are personalities we can learn from in order to keep the team productive.

Have you encountered a John Rutsey, Steve Bartman or Omarosa on your team? What other personalities have you encountered?

Have a really great day!

agile adoption ,team dynamics ,problems ,challenges ,agile

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