The Many Perceptions of Creativity (3)

Our third interview of the four-part series is with Tom Brouwer- Scrum Master at Artificial Industry

What does creativity mean in your daily work? In the third part of our series, Tom tells us about the importance of creativity as a Scrum Master and as developer. For example, how team creativity can prevent meetings to become dreadful. Read the interview down below. Share and like if you enjoy reading our interviews!

Tom Brouwer — Scrum Master and Developer

“Hi Tom! Is creativity important in your role as a Scrum Master?”

“Yes, very much so. When you look at the role of a Scrum Master, you mostly focus on the process of the project. In every project we have a Sprint Planning, a Review, a Retrospective and Daily Stand-ups. It’s important to keep these meetings active and original in a way. This will help the team to stay active, involved and think for themselves. I guess there’s a difference between promoting individual creativity within the team and promoting creativity in meetings. Creativity during meetings helps to fight the expected.

“How do you keep team meetings creative as a Scrum Master?”

“In our Scrum process and the regular meetings we have, I try to look for different ways to reach the goal we want to achieve. In a Retrospective, for example, the goal is to discuss how the project went, what we learned from it and what we can improve next time. I prepare these meetings by exploring existing methods to get information out of the team members. Sometimes, I create a method myself. Imagine if one team member isn’t committed to the project and becomes an impediment for other team members. There are many different ways to approach this problem. I could choose to focus on that specific individual, which wouldn’t be a very positive approach. Alternatively, I could decide to improve our team building by ideating together on our Scrum Values in a fun Post-It session where everyone can give scores to the different values. I think you’ll get more done if you approach it this way.

The first time I worked with Scrum as a developer, I didn’t really understand the lengthy meetings and all the different team building and reflecting exercises. Which resulted in a lower involvement on my side, causing lower trust within my team which eventually leads to less ideas on the table. Now I see that promoting creative brainstorm activities can help to start interesting discussions and therefore improvements.

What’s so interesting about ‘creativity’ is that you don’t know what you’ll end up with in the end. Often, you can get more out of it than first expected. It’s like an energy boost. Which is good for your self-esteem and the mentality of the whole team. Although, sometimes I put a lot of time in preparing a new approach for a meeting, and then no discussions start. This can be quite disappointing. However, it can be caused by a lot of things; the vibe of the team, the interaction between individuals, the pressure of upcoming deadlines. It all comes down to trusting each other and the process to create a healthy environment where creativity can flow. But solving trust issues within the team requires even more creativity of the facilitator. I never thought of these things when I joined meetings as a developer.”

“Is your creativity expressed differently in your role as Scrum Master and your role as developer?”

As a Scrum Master you mostly focus on improving the creativity of others. You inspire other people to think differently. Creativity often happens when people with different ideas work together as a team and combine them in the right way. As a developer, ‘creativity’ means creating something myself. Achieving a specific goal in an original and new way. I often lay down the problem I’m trying to solve to others to collect different point of views. To answer your question, I guess the creative process is really not that different between the two roles I have. As a developer, I don’t see the need to create the same thing over and over again. You can save yourself time by standardising the basic elements you need for every project so you have more time to create original features for the application. As a Scrum Master, you also standardise certain parts of the process so you have more time together to focus on creating new things.”

We hoped you enjoyed our first interview! Like and share the post if you believe Tom’s perspective on creativity is worth reading. Keep updated for the last interview coming up this week!