Where is Scrum Comfortable?

scrummyWorking with a Scrum team can be many things.  Along a spectrum from Comfortable, to Capable, Challenging, and up to Confused,  Calamitous or maybe Chaotic. I ask of myself where I might be.  Where is the team at?  Always I end up where I can’t blame Scrum, instead I point to something within myself. I will often go one step more towards some actionable improvement.  If there is a feeling of comfortable – is this time to strive for greater contribution?  There are moments of calm and quiet that hit just before storms, in the eye of it, and then afterwards.  So many times I pay attention to the storm that I forget to make use of those times of calm.  Change becomes a pain point instead of a welcome opportunity.  It is also why so many people who see the opportunity in a difficult problem have an easier time with agile.   Is the comfort level that I have derived from consistent cohorts, the familiar type of work in the backlog, my skill level, my contribution, etc.  Comfort too often derives from staying the same.  A much better comfort characteristic indicator, however, is being at ease when these things are changing.  Doesn’t continuous improvement always push us ahead, exploring to the edges of our known comfort map?

Critical thinking is a skill

Constantly this demands we be engaged in the moment.  It cannot emphasize confrontation but rather the ability to be candid. Can we recognize, understand, evaluate, communicate, and in the end have some consensus among ourselves?

Coaching

Be ready to receive.  Even those moments of insight can ever be honed for their delivery.  Inflexibility of consideration often caches impediments and contention.  Am I coach-able and correctable?  Kindergarten taught us to get ready and be open to learn from everywhere.  Are we improving and getting better?  Perhaps, we have been content and things seem to slip and decay just a little bit.  The small slips are covert until they accumulate into a moment of catastrophe and cataclysm.

In the Cards

The product owner often represents the team to the organization.  The work that they are doing is valued, valuable, and visible.  The conversations about this work is captured.  The expectation is convergent and aligned. There is definite commitment by the team. There isn’t any magic concealed in the cards – it is instead within our own character. Our capability as an organization, our capacity as teams, and our collaboration as individuals.

Cooperation

Challenges taken as a team or as a program of teams means that we are trusting others to help attain a very important vision.  That vision is comprised of a great many smaller achievements.  This means no hiding, no distracting, and the correct type of enabling.

The feeling of Safe isn’t the same as comfort.  A safety harness or belt allows us to do things with inherent risk.  We still require preparation and still exercise caution. The safe part allows us to achieve, and excel in a different context, while not falling too far.  A psychological safe space conveys innovation, creativity, and condones some risk towards reward.  Without empowerment, safety, and some closure, change often comes at a high revolutionary cost.

A quiet and calm mind during a storm will help.  I remember one of the first public runs I went on. It was part of a team event and I paired up to run with one of the members.  It was a 10k.  My endurance was starting to ebb.  I remember my mind grasping at the thought that if only my teammate would slow down to make it easier on me.  Anger would not have been far behind.  I knew I had to control the unfair contagion of criticism and instead celebrate their ease of achievement.  I stopped mentally accusing and switched context.  I focused on digging within to examine my own form, gait, and breathing.  It was sloppy and it definitely helped to adjust and self-correct.  The effort allowed me to stay in pace, and finish far faster than I could have on my own.  It is a lesson I carry whenever working with others.  Where do I sense comfort coming from?

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2 thoughts on “Where is Scrum Comfortable?

  1. I really like this post!
    I don’t think Scrum ever was made for making anyone feel comfortable (although I know people that really are comfortable using Scrum and wouldn’t dream of applying for a job in a company that works differently). The nature of agile methods often makes flaws in the organization, the ways of working and in each one of “the professional us” very visible.
    If you want to feel comfortable using agile methods, you have to be able to feel comfortable with continuous improvement. I mean really comfortable, so that NOT changing will make your whole body and mind itch.
    The trick for me is to embrace that I do feel uncomfortable with bigger changes. To handle this, I need to break down the changes to really small pieces, taking them on one by one.

    • These are GREAT points! First – Agile IS often an active ‘get up and out of your chair’ thing. Being sedentary (physically, mentally, communication, process, …) for too long should make us yearn for improvement some where. Secondly Breaking large things down into smaller actionable steps. We do this with breaking epics into smaller stories all the time. A great team has a fearlessness even when the nature of the work changes and is something they’ve never done before. It is both a challenge and an opportunity. The comfort is more in themselves in how to tackle and problem solve, and in knowing the organization values their team contributions. To a person there is a pride in the work the team has done, and some reflection for how to do it better. Noticing the achievement, growth, and learning along the way adds to the motivation. Thank you! Ever.

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