Serious Scrum
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Serious Scrum

Scrum Master, Agile Coach… don't keep it to yourself.

Handwritten words on lined paper saying Let it Out
A handwritten reminder on a lined notepaper to Let It Out.

Over the years I have been working with teams in different organisations and industries. I’ve seemed to have built up my instincts and awareness to be able to predict how things could unfold a few moves down the road.

I sometimes like to refer to this as a superpower, even though I know how self-adulating that sounds.

I used a similar skill to ‘read the game’ when I was playing Sunday League football here in the UK, or Soccer as it’s known to our friends over the water in the US. It was a great tool to have, especially as I wasn’t the fastest or most skilful player on the pitch. It gave me a bit of an edge to make sure I could position myself to be in the right place at the right time to make a tackle or interception, or dare I say it on very rare occasions score a goal!

Bringing it back to my Scrum Mastery and Agile coaching, I’ve had experiences where I observed some behaviours and events that I predicted might come back to haunt us later on.

These experiences can cover many areas, but some highlights are;

  • an approach taken to capture requirements
  • how a decision to manage requirements might prove ineffective later on
  • how we decided to engage with another team or project
  • how the organisation expects you to deliver changes to ways of working with your team
  • how an organisation defines what will be released and when.

You could argue that there is value in being able to spot these, alone.

And I guess that you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that.

What I have come to realise is that this is only half of the process. What do I do with this information? Which aren’t facts yet by the way…they are essentially hunches and theories based on my experience and past dealings with teams.

I have had instances in the past where I have let things happen because I’ve felt like I needed to let the team try things, to fail, to acknowledge the failure and to learn from it.

This is the rose-tinted romantic view of how a team can organically progress, how they can grow and continuously improve.

For me to just observe and see what happened I think was a waste of my ‘superpower’.

Let’s break down what really happened;

  • I made observations that I thought would result in a bad outcome
  • I didn’t make that known to anyone other than myself
  • The negative outcome happened
  • I have an internal monologue that basically says, “I told you so”

In that scenario, who is benefiting?

This is why I’m writing this blog…take the awkward first step…if your instinct tells you that something isn’t quite right…then please…talk about it.

Ask your team if they would like to hear what’s troubling you. Pitch it in a way that it is not a direct instruction for them to stop and change what they are doing immediately…but to allow them to make a decision or assessment based on all of the available information.

By saying nothing, you’re not helping your team or organisations.

Even if they decide to continue on the same path, support that decision, and help them with whatever they need to succeed, and if your prediction doesn’t come true, then that’s even better! Add that to your experience too.


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