Scrum Masters: Keep ‘a little Bernie Sanders of Agile’ in your Heart

Idealist: noun: 1. a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations.

Keep ‘a little Bernie Sanders of Agile’ in your heart.  Bernie, with his ideals on how to build a successful America, has always seemed a bit too idealistic, veering far off from how we’ve come accustomed to how America has been run by previous presidents.

When you are first practicing Agile, it’s advisable to stick to the basics. It is important to implement the few basic guidelines without alteration.

If you can, recall the Shu-Ha-Ri Principle so often quoted in Agile. Brushing through the Shu-Ha-Ri Principle, a Japanese martial art concept, describes the stages of learning to mastery.

Shu (Follow and Obey)  – This is especially important for a new team, a new Scrum Master or a Scrum Master working with a new team, to be able to understand the “what” and of the process.  You need to learn and understand the fundamentals, techniques and processes without worrying too much about the underlying theory.

Ha (Detach and Digress) – Detachment from the illusions of self. You have done it for a while and you understand what works and why they are meant to be a certain way. You are now understanding the theory and principles behind the fundamentals, techniques and processes that you have learned.

Ri (Leave and separate) – you have become the master, the epitome of the subject (Agile in this case). All moves have become natural and you can start your own process unhindered without overstepping the (Agile) laws. It comes naturally.

The problem is, these days most Scrum Masters immediately jump to the Ri Stage, modifying processes without going through Shu and Ha. You need to understand and experience success with the process before you can experiment and make the process your own.

An example can be a Scrum Master who is starting with a new team, organizing their first sprint planning in only thirty minutes. As a result, the team goes on with planning the next several days.

Another example would be, to skip the Sprint Retrospective without understanding its value, thus abandoning an important part of the continuous improvement cycle.

To summarize, without having the experience of implementing Agile and Scrum wisely, it is not advisable to overlook the basic recommendations. How? By keeping alive ‘a little Bernie Sanders of Agile’ in your heart. There is a small idealistic feeling about doing it the way it was meant to be, before experimenting with the process. Like the saying goes, you have to know the rules before you can bend them.

In the beginning, allow your work to be guided by the principles and driven by the values.

The servant-leader Scrum Masters must be the overseer of implementing Scrum as it comes out of the box before customizing the settings.

What have you experienced in your journey with Agile and Scrum?

Have you followed the Shu-Ha-Ri Principle in your journey as you evolved your process?

Amitabh (Amit) Sinha is a servant leader entrepreneur, visionary, mentor, trainer and coach. Amit is highly passionate about Agile, its principles, values, and the human side. Amit is a people champion and strives to bring out the best in his teams. Amit leverages his expertise in Agile, Scrum, Kanban and people skills to increase team effectiveness and happiness. See more

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Patrick Foster

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