The hardest thing about Scrum?

To hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.

What is best thing about Scrum? Wow. There are so many good things, hard to choose the best.

  • We get to be ourselves (less than we pretended sometimes, more than we showed before)
  • We get to help others more effectively
  • We get to tell the truth
  • We deliver more business value (pretty important in a recession)
  • We can see the truth better
  • We can see the progress we have made (ex: from removing impediments)
  • We have more fun
  • We get to enjoy being in and contributing to a successful team
  • We can have more pride in our work

OK, fine, but what is the hardest thing about Scrum?

At first, it seems like figuring out all the practices is often the hardest — all the fine art of doing Scrum. Then, Scrum makes more apparent all the problems we have doing our work. New product development is always hard. Our organizations, it becomes quickly apparent, are beyond stupid in how they support the team. So, these painful truths are hard.

Then there is the relentless pursuit of perfection. It is hard, everyday, to admit that you and the team are not perfect yet, and that there are more impediments to remove, more Kaizen to do, more change — relentless and hard on the ego. One wants to believe one can plateau out, reach perfection and mentally rest. Accepting this never-ending road is hard (although, once accepted, more fun).

Finally, there is the mirror. “Hi. I am Joe. I am a recovering waterfallic.” We have to admit that deep in our hearts, Scrum values and principles forever elude us. Yes, we get them some, maybe more on some days than others, but even the best of us want to follow other values and other principles sometimes. Even I (whomever “I” is).

  • I want a silver bullet.
  • I want to tell people how to do it.
  • I want to make the Team self-organize. (Is this an oxymoron or what? But we, in effect, say these things to ourselves.)
  • I want to be seen as the smartest (as though that were relevant to the team’s success).
  • I want to have a contract, not accept that collaborating through change is more valuable.
  • I want to prove that my box/silo, which I can fully control (quite an illusion that one) is successful, rather than accept that I only influence the success of the team. And that the only meaningful success is team success, really customer success.

And many more.

It is so easy, so normal, to think we “get it'”when we don’t. I think it is very hard to see, and hard to accept, that we ourselves are stupid and revert back to “wrong” ideas.

How to deal with this?

Very hard. Only simple things can be said. Continually question whether our thoughts and suggestions are consistent with Lean-Agile-Scrum values and principles, allow others to continually question that, assume we are making some errors in this way and ask ourselves, “Where are the areas where I am most violating the values and principles of Lean-Agile-Scrum?”

Let us struggle with this, with some compassion for ourselves, but with some renewed energy also, to, for example, ask for feedback.

P.S. I hope you like the Picasso. “Girl before a mirror” from the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.

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Posted in: impediments, Scrum
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One thought on “The hardest thing about Scrum?

  1. 5CentsWorth

    One of the things I love about scrum is as you said it brings out the painful truths so they have to be addressed or accepted that we cant fix them. We cant solve everything.

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