Sunday, March 28, 2010

Changing people (that would include you)

I am involved with Scrum as a coach and trainer. And occasionally (well, more or less daily), 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. Arrogance is not charming.)

And I totally sympathize. I too would like to see Scrum used more and better (or better and more). And to me the key impediment is in the mind of man (or particular people).

Or is it in the mind?

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 all into some of the touchy-feelly stuff in the original article, but the basic point rings truer and truer to me. The action teaches the mind what the values and principles really are. Well, it would if they were paying more attention. And, even when not, 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 this 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 will sound totally stupid.]

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

So, one answer to "how do I change those people?" is: start the drama-in-real-life of Scrum, and use that to enable them 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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