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How Scrum Changed My Life

What did you want to be when you grew up? How about when you started your first job? What was the vision you had for your future? Is it still the same?

Recently someone asked me what my ambitions were when I started my first job. My answer: I wanted to be the CEO. I didn’t mind of what, but I knew I wanted to succeed. I was highly ambitious, and to me climbing the corporate ladder all the way to the top was the very definition of that success.

And now? Well a while ago I made a conscious choice to side step the corporate ladder and focus on coaching, and now I’ve taken a pay cut to work in a smaller, less corporate environment.

How did this happen? Well in my case Scrum happened.

I was exposed to eXtreme programming and later Scrum. Both of them hinted that there was a better way of working. Now that I’ve spent time as a Scrum coach and have done lots of reading on motivation and job satisfaction, I realise that there is good science behind that intangible feeling I had that agile was good for me.

Dan Pink’s astounding TED video on motivation says it all. I’ve realised that Scrum has helped me redefine success as personal satisfaction in a job well done. Dan would call it mastery. I have discovered that what I love best is helping others realise their potential. If I think back, I remember enjoying being a tutor at university. I had a knack for explaining complex ideas simply to people and have them be delighted that they had finally grasped the idea and understood it for themselves. Their delight fueled my sense of mastery.

Scrum coaching brings me that same personal satisfaction. I really enjoy it when a few days or weeks after a discussion with someone about an agile principle, they come back to me and tell me what they’ve implemented in their teams as a result of mulling over the discussion.

Scrum also highlights something fundamental for me. It is about trust and respect. Somewhere along the line when building huge corporations we seemed to forget that we are all people. No better and no worse than each other. We masked it by calling people resources, and taking about them. Through my reading as a coach, I have understood that the only way to build a successful team is to treat all the team members as people, and individuals. Not to rank them based on performance or intelligence or contribution, but treat them as whole perfect people, all of equal value. Until then they won’t be able to find that job satisfaction for themselves, which will result in them giving everything just because they enjoy it.

There seems to be a movement towards making work a better part of our existence. As the Scrum Alliance puts it “Transforming the world of work”. I am proud to be part of this movement. I am passionate about making work a meaningful part of our existence. I think Scrum and agile are helping me on this journey, and I couldn’t be more delighted that I stepped off that ladder.


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