• Brian Levy

Strategy Every Company Needs - Scrum

Learn How Trust Builds Character in an Agile Environment


The ✨BEST✨ part about scrum is developing a self-awareness that allows knowledge workers to feel confident in the decisions they make. In other words, the more managers trust their knowledge workers to make decisions, the more positive and productive the business relationship is (ultimately reinforcing scrum’s self-management among teams).

Fortunately, with scrum, knowledge workers are encouraged to “Fall Forward Fast'' by making decisions, even with minimal information. This is because in an agile environment we learn by doing. We gather information from previous sprints, such as, hypotheses, assumptions, metrics, etc. and knowledge workers use that information to judge what they should test next.

If the decisions they made were wrong, knowledge workers are NOT penalized for it. Instead, they’re ENCOURAGED to use their knowledge (and the information from previous sprints) to make new decisions. This is the purpose of scrum.


Let’s break it down a little further…


…Learning From Our Mistakes


When people look at acceptance criteria, most begin with verbs (actions to complete) to describe how they anticipate to achieve the goal. But when you start with verbs you lead with actions, which leads to tasks, and soon thereafter innovation stops 🛑 completely. Thus, it’s important to remember the purpose of your goal is to, ‘describe the future state that you want.’ So ask yourself, “why am I completing this activity?” The answer you come up with is the goal 🟢 you wish to accomplish, that’s what you want to focus on (the goal).

Here’s a revelation of mine… The deal is, in scrum, there are two main forces.


The two forces that drive scrum:

  1. Discipline

  2. “The practice of training… to obey rules or a code of behavior.”

  3. Feedback

  4. “Information about reactions to a product, a person's performance, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.”


  1. LOOK 👀 at the future state and based on that, pick some actions 🏃 to get there. If those actions don't bring you to your desired future state, what you should do is gather feedback on the actions that didn't get you there, so you change your actions.


  1. THE PROBLEM IS… Most people don't get the feedback. The forces of scrum become visible, you need discipline to set up structures in advance that allow you to get feedback. If you don't set up structures for gathering feedback in advance, you won't receive any helpful feedback and you won't know 👎 what actions to shift; instead, of focusing on results, you'll focus on tasks.

  2. Let’s say you make the mistake of focusing on a task, because you have a structure built in advance for gathering feedback, that feedback helps you refocus on the goal 📈 (or results) instead of tasks.



How We Measure The Results


Metrics - By definition, metrics are ‘measurements that let you know whether or not you're reaching your goal.’ Specifically, measurements that show whether or not you’re on the right track because when we look at the metrics, it automatically acts as feedback and directs us towards ➡️ the goal again; rather than the activity. If you set them up correctly, when you get feedback, it'll tell you whether or not you reached a result and if you need to change it.

What most people do incorrectly pertains to discipline. In the task world, metrics are set up incorrectly if you aren’t disciplined 🏋️ because those metrics are set up to count activities (or tasks) that you complete. If you set up your metrics this way, you won’t get the right feedback and you’ll still focus on tasks rather than results (or goal). BUT if you set up your metrics correctly, with your discipline, if you set it up to have results, when you get feedback it’ll tell you whether or not you reached a goal and if you haven’t, you change your actions.


Let me give you an example to make it easier…


…Ex. Measuring Blood Pressure


My wife and I use blood sugar monitors, they attach to us and it gives each of us continuous levels of what our blood sugar is. When most people work out they have an apple watch that gives feedback on how many steps the person wearing it took; this is focusing on activity and working out is about health, so you need to focus on results. So I figured out what blood pressure I wanted to have and worked out until I reached that level, then I stopped. When I did this, I noticed that the type of exercise would change. If I walked but didn't reach a result, I switched the exercise to running and that brought my blood sugar down faster.

If people don’t have metrics set up for receiving feedback, they won’t know that the actions they’re taking aren’t working. Instead, they’ll continue to think they’ve done a good job even though it is ineffective. My revelation was that people practice scrum in the medical field but not in many other places. This is because in the medical field, people think about the result they want, what their heart rate should be or how certain levels should look.

Now, imagine if scrum was taught ✏️ in fields of education. We could teach kids that doing homework isn’t about finishing the task but the mastery skills they’re meant to develop from doing the homework itself. What if teachers told their students, “You will check your math homework on your own. Complete the problems, look at the correct answers and see if you got any of them right. Do this as practice and complete your math homework until you have a 70%. After you’ve reached at least 70%, you are finished.” The behavior of the students would change completely because instead of just completing a homework assignment, students are focusing on attaining a result. Many people aren’t taught to focus on results, and so, they’re focused on tasks, they complete activities.


We need to teach ourselves to do this with everything.


The other thing I realized was, when people do activities, they don't really think about what the results should be. Everyone is focused on the task, the reason we can't focus on the results is because if there is no format for gathering the results the right way on what should happen, we don't learn anything. Let’s think about the apple watch example from before. I got immediate feedback on my blood sugar level as I ran and I saw the levels go down. Switching my exercise (from walking to running) to something more intense had a greater impact on the result I wanted (which was to have lower blood sugar).


HERE’S THE DEAL, most people don't have the discipline to figure out what the result needs to be, which means, they don't have the ability to check either. It’s as if you do an activity, you don't learn whether or not it worked or even why. If you don’t have the discipline, this leaves zero room for an incentive or a necessary change for something better. In simpler terms, it’s about having an objective measure that’s related to the goal you want to accomplish.


IT’S ABOUT SEEING…

The relationship between the goal, their assumptions, and the activities. Some people see the relationship between these items and understand, but the fact is, most people don’t. The reason for the hypothesis in the format is to force people to think about, force them to see, the relationship between what their belief (assumption) is, their actions, and the results. Left to their own devices, people wouldn’t do this voluntarily.


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