One thing is for certain, nothing in life will remain the same over time.
A year after facilitating Scrum Framework into our organization and amidst a multitude of change within our company, I had an epiphany; Scrum is a constant in an ever-changing environment, and that is the beauty of it.
One thing is for certain, nothing in life will remain the same over time. While this sentiment can be viewed as great for evolution and new experiences, change also can bring forth feelings of uncomfortableness and uncertainty.
While we cannot control what is out of our hands, we can control how we conduct ourselves…
As a recently certified Scrum Master within the previous year, starting new projects and teams was extremely exciting. On the flip-side, scrapping some of our projects or losing team members became somewhat uninspiring. The balance of the good and the bad life experiences allow people to appreciate them that much more, whether it be the fond memories or the tough lessons. The balance is what is key to remember.
While we cannot control what is out of our hands, we can control how we conduct ourselves in the preparation for the inevitable change that will arise. A constant during these times is essential, as the chaos that can ensue from lack of vision, scope creeps, or loosely defined requirements dampers morale, the consistency of Scrum Ceremonies can be the stabilizer for needed balance.
I liken the ceremonial practices to the balance that a parent would try to instill into their child. Having a stable environment will foster a support system that a child will need for catalyzing future success. But without a stable environment, the child may not be able to garner the backing to support their utmost potential. The same can be said for our projects, without the proper support and adjusting to change, they also will not reach their highest value.
Too much structure, on the contrary, could also lessen the child’s ability to self-direct. These premises correlate the Scrum Ceremonies as well. While there may be an unclear direction towards a project that you're assigned, Scrum Ceremonies will allow a constant that the team can rely on.
“A good 15-minute meeting today will save a bad hour-long meeting tomorrow”
Take for instance the Daily Scrum stand-up, which allows the team to cultivate awareness and bring forth transparency on their work for the next 24 hours. During times of confusion, simply setting time aside to acknowledge one another and discuss ideas for positive change accounts for much more than one might think. These rapid interactions aid in the vital feedback loop.
When first implementing Scrum, the notion of meeting every day even for just 15 minutes seemed redundant. Over time, I realized these are the instances in which the true collaboration and self-organizing plays out. One day, a fellow team member of mine, not assigned to Scrum projects made me self-aware that these are the interactions that deliver true value. He said, “A good 15-minute meeting today will save a bad hour-long meeting tomorrow”.
…the fact that we strive for improvement by dedicating time for these occasions, despite all of our obligations, shows how we value our best resources; each other.
Hearkening back to my parent-child structure analogy, too much structure surrounding the ceremonies or relationship may result in the participants not being as entrusting with feedback or take away from self-organizing. For instance, if the ceremonies don’t allow for openness, then the team may not be as forthcoming. In comparison, if a parent enforces too much structure, their child could rebel or not be as committed. Even if it is in association with something that their child is affectionate towards, such as a sport or talent.
There is no perfect balance that is easily obtained by simply following a handbook or framework, whether it be for a parent, Scrum Master, or anyone for that matter. What is key to the main point of my epiphany is that the simple striving for balance within our ceremonies, in our interactions, in our everyday life is where the beauty resides. The reason it is beautiful is that while nothing is perfect whether it be in our work or our daily lives, the fact that we strive for improvement by dedicating time for these occasions, despite all our obligations, shows how we value our best resources; each other.
In closing, as I sat at my desk on that day that consisted of many sudden changes within my organization, I stared at a tchotchke that was given to me from my Scrum Trainer that symbolizes the balance that we all should be aiming for when advocating Scrum. The giveaway item was a rugby ball emblazoned with a fox and a hedgehog to signify the balance that is needed for us to be our most versatile while developing within the Scrum framework. You cannot swing the pendulum of change too much on one side without counterbalancing the other, this was inspired by the Greek poet Archilochus:
The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
While the sly fox may know many workarounds and the unbudging hedgehog may be great at that one thing, too much of one or the other will leave you off-kilter. Thus finding the culminating balance whether it be between the team members or how the Scrum framework is structured is what is “the game” and what makes it worth playing for. If we knew when we first set out on a new initiative that we would always succeed, or if we know that we will inevitably fail, our hearts will not be as inspired as they perhaps could be. But if we know there is a variable unknown conclusion and if we place checks and balances along the way, our engagement and buy-in will be omnipresent. And that is the beauty of it.