Can an Emptty Mind Help You Adopt Scrum?

This core Zen idea may help you modify your habits.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Scrum doesn’t suit your group.

How may I do know that Scrum doesn’t fit your needs? I’ve not seen you observe Scrum. And I’ve not witnessed your successes or struggles.

I do know this as a result of Scrum was not designed to suit your group. It doesn’t have every little thing you want. Scrum requires you so as to add complemetary practices so that it’ll thrive inside your group.

Scrum is:
– Lightweight
– Simple to grasp
– Difficult to Master

—The Scrum Guide

Let’s take that final side of Scrum: it’s tough to grasp. The foremost explanation for this problem is the hardened norms of your group. Your present established order is in the best way. Scrum seems to not match when your ingrained behaviors run opposite to the Scrum Values.

Scrum is tough to grasp since you refuse to let go of your current, limiting beliefs and behaviors. Your resistance to alter is the wrongdoer behind the issue.

As a outcome, many resolve to adapt Scrum to suit their group or quit on it altogether. You know that is true when somebody describes their use of Scrum to you want this:

“We use Scrum, however…”

”We have a hybrid Scrum mannequin.”

“Scrum didn’t work for us, so now we use Kanban.”

“We are usually not purists.”

At its core, Scrum is all about empiricism. It is constructed on the three pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

This signifies that Scrum will shine a light-weight on current patterns that should change. Then, it’s as much as you. You should first examine the basis trigger. And then, you’re accountable to change your habits to a greater, completely different sample.

In different phrases, Scrum doesn’t want to alter. Your group should change. You want to change your behaviors to supply a greater outcome. And this may change your perception over time.

But that is arduous. It makes Scrum tough to grasp.

The problem of adopting Scrum stems from the stickiness of our current habits. Our patterns are a routine and run on autopilot. We know what to anticipate, and dependable outcomes reinforce our perception system.

And our group depends on our typical habits and outcomes. As such, we turn into specialists in our established order. But there may be an unlucky consequence of experience. Our experience makes it tough to study one thing new; it blinds us.

“We can’t remedy issues by utilizing the identical sort of considering we used after we created them.”

—Albert Einstein

I do know from expertise that almost all adoptions of Scrum go south as a result of a resistance to alter. And most occasions, we don’t know we’re resisting. Our minds kick into autopilot to eject the overseas factor referred to as Scrum.

So, what are we to do?

There is a Zen idea that may assist. Let’s focus on the idea. Then, we are going to dive into methods to use it to assist us undertake Scrum.

The Beginner’s Mind

The Zen Concept of Shoshin—a newbie’s thoughts—may help us take care of change. It may help us overcome the pull of our current established order. And it will possibly assist us pursue steady studying regardless of how superior now we have turn into.

“In the newbie’s thoughts there are various potentialities, however within the professional’s there are few”

—Shunyru Suzuki, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”

The idea of a newbie’s thoughts is greatest defined by evaluating it to an professional’s thoughts. Take the opposing descriptions of every under.

Figure A – Comparing the Beginner’s Mind and the Expert’s Mind

A newbie’s thoughts permits us to be open to new potentialities. By approaching a change with true curiosity, we are able to start to open our minds to making an attempt new behaviors. This requires placing our assumptions and present beliefs apart. Then, we are able to make room and let studying in.

Shoshin gives the trail for lifelong studying.

Shoshin and Scrum

So Scrum is tough to grasp. It is tough as a result of we resist change. The Zen idea of Shoshin helps us harness a newbie’s thoughts to counteract our resistance.

Let’s focus on 5 methods the newbie’s thoughts may help you adapt your habits to embrace Scrum.

№1–Regain Your Sense of Wonder

When we attempt to predict with out utilizing studying as our information, we lose our probability for frolicsome curiosity. We predict upfront our buyer’s wants and the most effective expertise to make use of. We prescribe one of the best ways of working as a group. And we set in stone the precise date we are going to ship earlier than we start work. Predictive habits limits our choices and ignores the empirical course of.

Product improvement is advanced and unsure. As such, we have to open our minds to a number of potentialities to search out the “proper” resolution. We have to “play” with completely different choices as an alternative of locking into our first intuition.

Our instincts originate from our current patterns and habits. We ought to strive one thing completely different and break free from our intuition. Here are some methods to advertise curiosity in Scrum:

  • Think of the Product Backlog gadgets as “choices” quite than a recipe to comply with.
  • Set Sprint Goals mixed with a versatile Sprint Backlog. Avoid forming a inflexible Sprint contract or dedication of what you will need to ship and the way you’ll ship it.
  • When fixing an issue, generate no less than three options. Instead of choosing one, strive any two of those choices without delay and evaluate the outcomes.
  • Don’t assume each group has to behave the identical. Expect context-specific variation. It produces higher outcomes.

Exploring choices by means of experimentation permits empiricism to take root. It helps kind new habits patterns.

№2–Do Not Fear Failure

We don’t like to speak about failure within the enterprise world. Many of the businesses I coach keep away from the phrase altogether. They use the phrase “alternative” or “studying” as an alternative. This avoidance highlights our primal need to keep away from any signal of failure at work.

But the newbie’s thoughts sees failure as an vital a part of the method.

Our journey to the “proper” product constructed “proper” requires experimentation. And experiments is not going to all the time succeed. This is critical for studying to happen; the one failure is that if we don’t study.

To conquer a concern of failure, three issues should happen. First, now we have to have the braveness to “strive.” Second, we should have an setting the place we really feel secure to experiment. Third, we want Agile Leaders to assist a studying setting, celebrating all outcomes.

An experiment is a method to discover the unknown and assess the outcomes. Fortunately, Scrum has many alternatives to take advantage of experiment suggestions and study. Here are a number of:

  • Sprint Review: Discuss each good and dangerous outcomes of experiments. Highlight organizational impediments the group wants assist fixing.
  • Sprint Retrospective: Dive deep into the basis trigger holding you again. Move previous the floor and discover what wants to alter to make issues higher. And if you happen to need assistance to make the change, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
  • Daily Scrum: Highlight obstacles and impediments and tackle them with none additional delay. And if the Sprint Backlog isn’t going to satisfy the Sprint Goal, you possibly can pivot your Product Backlog to satisfy it.
  • Sprint Planning: Use a Sprint Goal and hold your Sprint Backlog versatile for assembly it. Incorporate your retrospective enchancment experiment into your Sprint Backlog.

№3–Empty Your Mind

Even if you consider you understand precisely what it is advisable to do, it helps to clear your thoughts and be open to new potentialities.

One of the most effective methods to do that is to hear actively and ask probing questions. Let others speak. Constructive debate produces higher outcomes. By being open to alternate views, you open the door to group innovation and creativity.

Here are some concepts on clearing your thoughts in Scrum:

  • Embrace the completely different views inside a cross-functional group. Encourage each voice to be heard.
  • Have full-team conversations round Product Backlog gadgets throughout Backlog Refinement. Don’t depend on documentation in a backlog administration device.
  • Talk to your buyer typically, to grasp their wants.
  • Embrace vulnerability and take a look at an experiment urged by different group members.

№4–Take Small Steps and Iterate

A newbie’s thoughts is raring to study. Small steps are essential to feed data to the educational course of. When embarking on a brand new, unsure expertise, select a small experiment. This will promote speedy suggestions and permit for frequent adjustment.

Scrum has some ways to embrace small steps and promote iteration. Here are a number of:

  • Choose a shorter Sprint size. This reduces the complexity of your Sprint increment and will increase suggestions.
  • Check your progress towards your Sprint Goal throughout every Daily Scrum. Adjust course as wanted to satisfy it.
  • Use the Sprint Review to replicate in your progress towards your product imaginative and prescient. Adjust the course as obligatory.
  • Use the Sprint Retrospective to replicate on how you’re working as a group. Select one factor to enhance. Then, experiment day by day to appreciate the advance within the subsequent Sprint.
  • Use Backlog Refinement to evaluate and alter choices for assembly your Product Goals. As your product emerges, the choices in your Product Backlog ought to evolve.

№5–Break Existing Rules

When we use Scrum, areas for enchancment stand out. When our previous habits stands in the best way of delivering worth, our intuition is to cover or defend the previous habits. We concern highlighting our personal current habits habits as an issue.

Instead of masking the prevailing habits, we should be clear about it. And then we should have the braveness to alter the prevailing guidelines. Rather than altering Scrum’s guidelines, we should always change the established order of our group.

This takes braveness from the Scrum Team. And it requires assist from Agile Leadership.

Here are some frequent examples of guidelines that usually want altering:

  • A Scrum Team’s work has dependencies on different groups.
  • A centralized evaluate committee has to evaluate and approve the work.
  • Team leads handle the work of the Scrum Team.
  • The Scrum Team should create complete documentation that’s not often or by no means used.
  • Only the information group can modify the datastore.
  • An outdated guidelines should be crammed out as a result of it all the time has been.
  • Only the skilled group members can estimate.
  • Only the testing group can take a look at.
  • Another group or individual prioritizes and plans the Scrum Team’s work.

Does This Mean Adopting Scrum Will Now Be Easy?

I want this was a silver bullet; it’s not. A newbie’s thoughts can present the correct mindset for letting change take flight. But it requires grit in your half to observe a newbie’s thoughts and to make the change occur.

With Shoshin, it is possible for you to to raised acclimate to alter when you find yourself pursuing Scrum. And you can see it simpler to strive new issues. Being aware throughout your change journey will reap nice returns.

Scrum is straightforward. Leave it alone. But do the arduous work to make a spot for Scrum. Change your established order with Zen—have a newbie’s thoughts.


  1. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, Shunryu Suzuki, Published by Weatherhill, 1970 ↩

Also revealed in Serious Scrum on Medium.

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