Changing people (that would include you)

I am involved with Scrum as a coach and trainer, and occasionally, I get the question, “I would really, really like to do Scrum (better), but I need to change X, Y and Z.” And X, Y and Z are people, or groups of people, at that person’s organization.

And, just to remind us of how utterly impossible it feels, let me add, “People don’t resist changing, they resist being changed.” (“Zen master, why such an impossible koan today?”)

We must also remember that it is not only “they” who must change. We must change also, starting with our blindness to our own need to change.

And I totally sympathize. I, too, would like to see Scrum used more and better. And to me the key impediment is in the mind of man (the wetware, as I call it).

I take Hapkido, and I truly like and greatly, greatly respect the master of the dojo. An American. One of his favorite phrases is, “Fake it until you make it.” And of course that has many applications.

Then, look at this article.
Or maybe better, look at this re-write of that article.

I am not into some of the touchy-feelly stuff in the original article, but the basic point rings true to me. The action teaches the mind what the values and principles really are. Well, it would if they were paying more attention. And, in any case, it does teach them some. Reality is a great teacher. And then the wiser teacher can teach based upon experience, not upon mere ideas in the mind.

So, today I heard the saying, “We do not think our way into a new way of acting, we act our way into a new way of thinking.” (A version of this saying is used in the article.)

Surely this saying needs some explanation, especially for those who are strongly (and only) rationalists. And surely it is not complete. But I can tell you from my experience that a man who is only convinced in the head will do the practices of Scrum in a very weak manner, while a person who “gets it” will do them so much better. (“Gets it” is the simple, opaque and yet totally obvious phrase some of us coaches use. If you have not experienced it, apologies, because it may sound stupid.)

I call Scrum a “drama-in-real-life,” by which I mean that in enacting the drama, the people will learn — all parties. And, with a wise teacher, many good things will result over time. Many good things will be learned in enacting the drama.

So, one answer to the question, “How do I change those people?” is to start the drama-in-real-life of Scrum and use that to enable these people to change. Wait for the teachable moment, and show them what they are almosting in their knowledge of agile. You can observe a lot just by looking, Yogi said. And learn a lot just by acting, Kert said.




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