“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Most everyone knows that quote from Yoda, and it highlights the three key things we must do, and maybe the couple things we must worry about.

Don’t do it half-baked.

Jeff Sutherland calls it “ScrumButt” and Ken Schwaber calls it Flaccid Scrum. (The second is not my favorite phrase.)

You don’t play a game using only half the rules, and there is plenty of evidence that using all the rules helps. I know of no evidence that fewer rules helps, although we do know people who still get significant benefits without doing all the rules. There is no proof (that I have seen) that “partial Scrum” was optimal for that Team.

My phrase: If you don’t change things, nothing’s gonna change.

People complain that it is hard to change things so that a team can play by all the rules. Yes, this is true, but if you’re going to play the game, play the real game.  Being stupid (I mean the company being stupid in not letting you play the real game) is hard in a different way.  Don’t let your company be that stupid, or at least don’t give up on them eventually becoming smarter.  Actually, if you do Scrum right, people are having more fun and are happier.

I suppose I need to try harder to explain why each and every rule of Scrum is important and helpful. More on that later.

Do the work with all your heart.

At this point, I do not mean Scrum, but rather the work itself. I do not mean all emotion and no brains. I do not mean work 80 hours a week, or even more than 40. But commit, and do it well. As they say in basketball, leave it all on the court. Give everything you have to help your team win.

And get everyone in the team, and everyone around the team, to do the same. Well, I assume you are working on one of the most important things in your area of the universe, so your team deserves support.

It is impressive all the barriers we create for people not to put their whole heart into their work. Give them the conditions where they can (and you also would) commit this much: honesty, autonomy, mastery, purpose, whatever, and none of the negative conditions and none of the rewards for half-heartedness.

It is said that it is scary to give one’s whole heart to something. Many a heart has been broken, or so the songs say. Still, this is the only way to live, to really be alive.

What if you give everything and then do not succeed? Do we protect ourselves by saying, “Well, we failed, but probably if I had given my whole heart, we would have succeeded!” It is said that people feel this way, deep down.

Be alive now. You indeed might fail, but you will learn how to succeed soon. Be not afraid.

Aggressively attack the impediments.

Again, to a large degree this is something you do with your heart. Do not put up with crap any more, but only fix one impediment at a time. Demand that the most important thing be fixed, one thing at a time.

Again, I do not mean all emotion and no reason. The most important thing to fix must usually be that thing that gives the greatest ROI when we’ve fixed it. More benefit per unit of cost.

Usually the benefit is most easily measured as added velocity. (Apparently, I still need to say that when velocity rises, so also must fun/happiness and so also must hours be held constant.) And usually the cost is money, often in terms of people time to fix it.

But emotionally, we must not dodge the important impediment because it might be a tough conversation. Or, we must not dodge it because it makes one person look bad for a few minutes. We must be honest about the biggest things to fix, and we must start to believe that management will fix the biggest thing, even though it has been there, it seems, for years.

The other tough thing is to admit that the team could actually have a velocity that is 300 percent or 500 percent better. Our dreams, our imaginations have been beat down. You must ask people to dream again, and to believe again in what their mere brains say is impossible. And yet is actually altogether completely possible.


All three of these things take courage in a way. Courage is from the old French word for heart. It takes heart.  Bon courage!



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