Ok, so this isn't really related to the topic at hand (maybe it is - I'm a woman and I work in UX - and in some ways that combination makes me the least powerful person in a scoping meeting)...but I wanted to start a conversation about influence and what that means.
I started reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I come from a more feminist background where I was an only child encouraged to do whatever I wanted. At 9 I wanted to be President of the United States - and my family loved this idea - until I realized at 13 that the job really sucks and I may want to consider other options. Then I was encouraged to be an engineer. I went to a predominately male school to study engineering until I realized I made a mistake. I saw that gender really does matter in the world and I need to be in an environment that recognized that I communicated differently, interacted with others differently, had different goals - and that how I did that was ok. So I dumped engineering, became and English major and went to a woman's college where I was pretty happy.
So what does this have to do with anything regarding UX or Agile? Reading the first couple of chapters of Lean In got me thinking more about women, leadership and influence. As a UX professional I often don't officially "own" anything. I don't "own" the client site, I don't own the metrics for the results - it's all the business person's stuff. So to get things done, I learned how to influence the business team and the technology team to get a better user experience in place. In Agile prioritization meetings I learned how to influence and negotiate before the meetings to advocate for users. I spent a lot of time evangelizing my cases and lobbying for user needs. People thought I was a social butterfly, but in many ways, I was getting a lot done. This is probably why I get up at 4am to work - I do my sketches first thing in the morning and spend my day talking about why my sketches are important.
Reading about leadership and watching videos on team dynamics, I wonder if having influence - even if you are in the background - is key to being a leader. You may not actively take over a meeting, but if you are able to get everyone's ear before the meeting to voice your concerns, aren't you leading in an indirect way? It's like the lobbyists in DC with our Congress - and we all know how powerful lobbyists are.
UX can't directly lead a project, but the UX team can be more "feminine" about it's approach and influence the team to go their way. At least that's my experience. I'm curious to hear your perspective.