Shock Therapy — Tobias Comment

Tobias wrote an answer to the blog article of Jeff Sutherland Shock Therapy: Bootstrapping Hyperproductive Scrum.

Tobias Article: Shock Therapy … or Compassion shows clearly the problem in which we run, if we consider Scrum only as a methode to “force” teams to become hyper-productive.

Tobias: What Jeff Sutherland and Scott Downey are describing is forced compliance to a process.  Is that what Scrum is?  I didn’t think so.

And I completely agree with Tobias. Scrum is not a process, Scrum is not even a Methodology. You might say that Jeff is the innovator of Scrum and he should know it. Well – Yes, And … there are some more aspects than hyper-productivity. On the other side – Downey has one point to make:

Downey: It occurred to me one day that Scrum Teams are the customers of the Scrum Master. We all know that customers of our enterprise don’t really know what they want until they have seen it. So why do we expect Scrum Teams to know how to set up their Planning Meetings if they haven’t seen a prototype?

And that is correct – people who want to learn something new from scratch need guidance. Well – most of us. Most of us do want someone who shows us one exact way that leads to success. Teaching is the art of knowing what teaching methodology is the right one for your students.

One way is to show a team exact one way to work. But – it is definitely not the best.

Tobias is right when he says: My feeling, my core belief, is that change has to begin within the individual for it to have any true meaning and long-term sustainability, for it to really matter.

And like Tobias I believe, we need to help people to see! We need to help people to become again aware what is right. When I do a training – one of my teaching methods is to bring people into a situation in which they experience the right way. They have a chance to feel the right way. Only if people sense that there is a better way of doing it – people will go into this direction.

Shock Therapy is not long lasting without bringing people later into an environment that supports the new way of behavior. Jeff did with Jens and other people a boot camp in Denmark. Now we talk about Shock Therapy – that reminds me about movies like “Full Metal Jacket“, and Platoon, in which people get a shock therapy to become soldiers. They sustain soldiers because they are later in an organization that gives you no freedom for individuality besides heroism.

Coaching and leading is something else. The way Tobias and I run our coachings is different to Downeys approach. Yes – We also try to show people what is the best way to do things. And we also have rules in place. F.e. I hate if someone is late!

But we try to work with a very simple technique: We help people to see and experience. We show them and let them try it. We show them and let them experience. We show them and let them recognize if the new way feels better.

I know Tobias – When he says:

I could be completely wrong here, but I don’t feel like standing by and letting “Shock Therapy” be the default way forward for Scrum.  Empathy and compassion as agents of change need an advocate too.  I’ll be that advocate.

He means what he writes and he is right. Empathy and compassion is definitely the right basis for our work. That does — for me — not mean, we do not use sometimes a clear language or firm action.

Scrum is business driven – it is about making products – but it is also a new way of dealing with us as humans.


One response to “Shock Therapy — Tobias Comment

  1. “Empathy and compassion is definitely the right basis for our work. That does — for me — not mean, we do not use sometimes a clear language or firm action.”

    I totally agree with Boris on this point. Since Scrum is not a methodology but a way of working together, communication is a key element. You have to make sure the message gets across and clear language helps (of course you make sure it is constructive).

    And I encourage the team to use clear language to me, as a ScrumMaster, as well. I guess we´ve all had Retrospectives where there was only complaining, I also had one where there was nothing but positive notes. Not that the team was afraid to tell the truth, but they were not trying to offend the others. Luckely when we agreed that the “what can be improved” items are there to make sure we as a team perform better and not to judge people, retroscpective became much more usefull.

    And firm action (as long as you don´t overdo it) shows you mean business. Not only towards the team, but also towards the rest of the world and the team will trust you more to solve impedements with the rest of the world.

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