Scrum teams: “Catch them doing something right!”

When my daughter was about 5, I relentlessly complained that she never ate anything. It was difficult for me to cook for her. And on and on I would go on a guilt trip!.  During one of these ramblings.. she stopped me mid sentence, held her arms firmly and counted with her tiny fingers.. all the items she liked to eat!  The items grew beyond her tiny fingers. We then got a sheet of paper and started writing down every single food item that she loved to eat. Though the list included chocolates and chips and icecream… It was revealing.  She had listed the vegetables she liked to eat. On it were some fruits, and beans and rice.

What the list clearly showed us was how she would like to eat and how the food needs to be delivered to her plate!  We never had to go through the ordeal of food, but as her mom I just had to get creative about cooking and serving her healthy meals.

I carry this discovery and revelation with me.  The conversations are not about a 5 year old anymore and it is not about what she likes to eat.

It has morphed into teams and Scrum.  What do teams want to do? What do they like? What needs to be discovered about their talents?

For some time now, I have been using the phrase, “Catch them doing something right!”.  And then when we figure out how they are doing these right, it is a celebration. We go to identify more things they do right, we then improve on them.

Now coaching is not about why their stories are not grammatically correct,  or if they pointed before prioritizing; or if their Scrum Master murmured during the stand-up.  Coaching is about “lets get the right things done at the right time!”.  When the list of doing things right grows,  the list of things not being done correctly vanishes on its own. Team finds it own way. Because people are intelligent. Thoughtful. It is just that as an agile coach we should not engage in a guilt trip of “I have to get things my way!” or “I know more because I am a coach”….

When we can learn from a 5 year old just by pausing and paying attention, why stop learning for a bunch of professionals??





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