2. May 2023 By Karin Glombitza
Changing how you think begins in the mind – the mindful attitude as a SCRUM success factor
Lightbulb moments are something that need to be experienced, not explained. This also applies to the factors that make agility successful. In reflecting on my everyday life as an agile coach for our adesso customers, I have realised that there are always moments when individuals or entire teams reach the point of ‘this needs to get better’. If we adopt an attitude of openness in these moments and have the confidence to endure the uncertainty they create, we start a learning process that leads us to new experiences and ultimately to new insights.
Including mindfulness in this process facilitates this practical shift in thinking. It can be the soft skill you need to reassess your options and reframe your mindset to make your work successful.
Am I already there or do I need to change how I think?
I recently had the pleasure of holding another SCRUM Product Owner course for adessi. As usual, the participants brought a lot to the discussion, and the elements of learning and having fun at work complemented each other nicely – nothing out of the ordinary. But when I asked the question I always do to wrap everything up – ‘what is your biggest takeaway from the course?’ – one answer stood out: ‘changing how I think’. The other participants all nodded in agreement as their colleague then went on to say:
‘agility is not about doing away with a set to-do list and having days full of repetitive rituals and meetings. It is about adopting an attitude of being a contributor.’ She continued: ‘trust cannot be demanded, the product owner has to earn it by contributing to the team and the project. It is not enough for the product owner to have great confidence in the team but then still leave them to get on with the work by themselves. The product owner must have a sense of collaboration and be totally aligned with the common product goal. Adopting this attitude requires you to change the way you think – or it is something that I need to do at least.’
As an agile coach, I often find that product owners operate in a conventional role outside the team – think project manager or supervisor – and have the view that SCRUM values are only relevant for the developers and the SCRUM master. But the SCRUM values form the underlying attitude that makes the SCRUM framework used successful. You build trust only by using these elements correctly and having them interact in the right way. By the way, here is a link to the blog post on ‘Agile software development – success with Scrum via mindfulness’, which discusses SCRUM values.
The participants’ desire to change the way they think is fuelled by asking themselves ‘am I already there or am I still on my way (to the here and now)?’
Here is a hands-on example: In my courses, I like to use a video for the SCRUM value ‘openness’, which helps you to work out where you are. The key question the video asks is ‘where am I?’ In the context of SCRUM, this will answer the question of ‘how am I thinking, what frame of mind am I in right now? Do I need to change how I think?’
The definition of ready as a hard skill is successfully combined with soft skills
This mindset enables you to rethink project management. Does the team even need to introduce a definition of ready (a formulation level of a product backlog item) as an agile rule via the SCRUM master if the entire SCRUM team lives mindfulness, trust and a focus on the goal?
A discussion on this uncovered some intriguing insights and led to the realisation that rules may help find a solution, but they are not the solution itself. Applying agile working methods is a hard skill, a professional competence. However, changing how you think and the mindful attitude that goes with it is a soft skill that allows you to develop a feeling for people and team dynamics. We need both of these skills to achieve the best possible results – they do not conflict with one another, but rather they complement each other.
The process of changing how you think itself also needs to be examined: mindfulness as a way of looking at the world is an overarching attitude that can be trained like a muscle, gradually producing better results. Mindfulness is the only way we can learn to think with an open mind.
Check out the adesso training course on mindfulness as a success factor to get a deep dive into the topic, in which you will get the opportunity to learn about and practise applying this approach.
If the SCRUM values are the success factors for SCRUM, then through mindfulness is how we learn how to make full use of them, push away any fears we might have and circle back to the SCRUM value of courage.
Can you think of more examples of living the SCRUM values through changing the way you think?
Has changing the way you think ever been the breakthrough you were looking for? Have you ever changed your perspective to make things better? What helped you to integrate new ways of thinking and perspectives in the long run?
I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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