Honesty and Scrum

Are people honest and transparent?

Short answer: Not completely.

Let’s digress first, and then come back to a better answer.



To digress… why are honesty and transparency important?

IMO, in two ways. The main reason: we can manage better with the truth. For example, we get better feedback in the Sprint Review. If we can see the product transparently and if people speak honestly. The same notion applies in all official or unofficial meetings a Scrum team might have.

And because there is less to remember.

Honesty is also important in personal relationships. People tend to like people who are honest. More trust. More sense that they know the real person.

And, of course, as it has for centuries, honesty has a bad side, too. These days we use the phrase ‘too much information’ or ‘over-sharing’ or we wince when someone gives feedback harshly, or says something in an ‘awkward’ way when a ‘smoother’ way would have been just as effective.

Then we have to face life, and some of us find certain parts of life very discomforting. By this I mean by work-related things, and things only indirectly related to work.

Here are some general facts we must face:

  • our strengths and weaknesses
  • time is short
  • ‘all things must pass’
  • humans are a lot like primates
  • humans are not as rational as we want them to be (at least sometimes)
  • certain body functions (was that delicate enough for you)
  • the classic topics: sex and religion (and politics and money)

I tease. Humans are primates and in so many ways, maybe for good or ill or both, we refuse to think of ourselves as animals. Weird.

There are plenty of roughly similar ‘hard to discuss’ topics at your work, but I won’t list those now.

As we work together, we must expect these ‘awkward’ topics to surface.

To some degree, as we gain trust with our teammates; they forgive us and we forgive them.  And its okay.  We talk openly, give feedback, and set some better boundaries.  But it can be awkward some times.



The main points here are a few:

  1. We want more transparency and honesty in Scrum. Mostly this is just to help make work better.
  2. Much of the honesty is refreshing and welcome. It’s fun to be known for who we really are.
  3. Still, humans will never be completely honest — ever (I think).
  4. Sooner or later, you are gonna hear things you do not want (or need, in your opinion) to hear. We will tease ourselves with this quip: some things you can’t unhear.

The ScrumMasters, the team and others will forever be working to help people be more honest. Also, sometimes ‘less honest’ (about some things).

People will make mistakes; that it will be painful sometimes… is to be expected. It will just happen.

Mostly it is better. “No place to run to, no place to hide” is a good song, mostly.



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2 thoughts on “Honesty and Scrum

    1. Joe Little Post author

      Hmmm. Probably yes. I whole lot of people think they understand Scrum, when in fact they do not. And a whole lot of people think they understand hockey and can ice skate some, but they are not Wayne Gretzky. So, very likely that you will learn by taking the course. But, yes, in theory you might not learn anything…I would rate the chances, based on what I usually see, as in the <1% range.
      Remember that not only are you learning 'facts'. You are learning HOW to explain it to other people, and get them to do it.
      Also, in theory you know it all already. But in practice you typically will have more influence on others, more street cred, if you have the CSM.

      One more point: What is really important is getting real success, and a lot more of it. For yourself, for you team, for your customers. People's lives need to be better. By comparison, the certification has very little meaning by itself. But we do think that certified people tend to get better results than the same person who is not certified.

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