I used to be a SCUBA instructor and the title was one of the things we taught our students. This was before all divers had a computer and, instead, used tables to tell them how long they could stay underwater safely.
Have you ever been diving or snorkeling? There aren’t many interesting spots, teeming with marine life that are at one depth. Coral heads, shipwrecks and the occasional sting ray or turtle cause you to adjust your depth and, subsequently, your plan. So, even the best dive plan requires adjustment. Today, divers can rely on computers whereas, then, the diver had to rely on their dive buddy and quick thinking. Good divers were able to handle the changes and appreciated them. The changes underwater are what makes the sport awesome.
Teams plan. The stories they accept into the sprint meet the ready criteria. The team knows what they need to do and they commit. Then a few days into the sprint something causes them to have to adjust. Good teams will adjust. Teams on their way to good will have a harder time. If they were divers, they would likely go ahead and surface. You don’t want a team to bail on a sprint.
So, the question is, how do you help the team who is almost ready to bail, stick with it and still feel successful?
This has only happened to me once. I first asked the team if the problem was one they could control. It wasn’t in their immediate control, but it wasn’t in the soup either. So, I asked them to come up with some different ways to solve it (as a team) and to pick one and go after it. They did. The cool thing was they adjusted their plan, removed the impediment and still had a successful sprint. The cooler thing was they realized they were empowered and could, in fact, respond to change and succeed rather than “surface”.