7. October 2022 By Karin Glombitza
#7 Agile software development – success with Scrum via mindfulness
As soon as ‘agility’ becomes a topic within companies, the Scrum framework also enters the conversation. This framework is easy to understand and quick to implement, but difficult to put into practice. For success, we need a specific inner attitude. Behaving in a way that adds value and exemplifies the Scrum values builds trust. Our attitude of trust in the cause and people gives us the ability to shape our success.
Companies want to use the Scrum framework to tap the full potential of self-organised teams. Our recipe for success is to have an agile attitude – and that is what we strive for. Mindfulness is also an attitude. It promotes self-efficacy in all areas of life: you consciously perceive the entire spectrum of your actions, make valid decisions and actively shape your environment. That sounds almost the same as the agile attitude, does it not?
The Scrum values
The Scrum Guide, in which Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber describe the Scrum framework for finding adaptive solutions to complex problems, first lists the fundamental success factors – the Scrum values. It then goes on to list the underlying attitude that leads to success when using the Scrum framework. Only then is the framework itself explained. Having an attitude in line with the following Scrum values builds trust:
>> When these values are embodied by the Scrum Team and the people they work with, the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection and adaptation come to life building trust.
In my experience, this part of the Scrum framework is overlooked and people get down to business the old-fashioned way: roles are assigned, events are organised and tools for mapping artefacts are introduced without pausing to understand the rationale behind doing these things. In these cases, Scrum is merely implemented and not truly put into practice.
Obviously, we are not in the right frame of mind to listen or understand. At this point, I like to reference a YouTube animation titled Locate yourself, which shows that depending on the circumstance, we may not be able to use our skills at times and that it is our job to pause and figure out where we are in that moment.
When we centre ourselves with an open mind, we are able to think differently right from the beginning and look at things from a fresh perspective. Openness is one of the Scrum values and is therefore crucial for success.
Pausing is practised as part of the mindfulness meditation guided by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is known for his scientifically based method of practicing mindfulness. Seven pillars for the inner attitude (where am I right now?) are developed during the meditation. According to Kabat-Zinn, the ‘beginner’s mind’ pillar can be compared to the Scrum value ‘openness’:
‘To see the richness of the present moment, we need to cultivate what has been called “beginner’s mind”, a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time.’
Looking at things openly with a beginner’s mind free of preconceived notions sounds almost the same as the agile attitude, does it not?
The seven pillars for the inner attitude are:
- 1. Non-judging
- 2. Patience
- 3. Beginner’s mind
- 4. Acceptance
- 5. Non-striving
- 6. Trust
- 7. Letting go
Those who regularly and continually practice mindfulness become positive, mentally healthy people who can deal with stress, feel good, focus on solutions instead of problems and courageously see conflicts as opportunities and can deal with them openly, constructively and responsibly as they work respectfully with others.
To be successful, we build trust. We use inner attitude as the basis for designing the Scrum values as success factors so that they lead to success when it comes to artefacts and/or results, sprint and decision-making meetings as well as prioritisation and planning. Trust – was that not also an inner attitude for practicing mindfulness?
Perhaps it is worth taking a closer look at mindfulness practices in order to answer one or two questions from the Scrum Team itself with an agile attitude using the example of Scrum values:
- How can we help achieve our common goals (commitment)?
- How do we recognise our possibilities and limitations (focus)?
- How do we prioritise and decide for ourselves whether to do the right thing the right way if we evaluate all happiness with the chances of success in the yet unknown future instead of just looking at the here and now with curiosity and open eyes (openness)?
- How can we communicate on equal footing if we have not learned to recognise and accept boundaries (respect)?
- What scares us? What can encourage us (courage)?
- How do we create trust in our goal, what we are doing and our team?
As you can see, mindfulness is generally able help to achieve success more quickly, especially when it comes to Scrum. Behaving more consciously in accordance with the seven pillars of inner attitude creates a positive, creative and ultimately trusting environment.
What do you do to create a trusting environment? If you want to learn more about the Scrum values, you can look forward to the next post in our agile blog series.
You can find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our blog articles published so far.