Get used to being uncomfortable

After going through the Certified Scrum Master class (I am fancy now!), I’ve been re-evaluating how projects are ‘managed’ at work. We are not fully agile, but we’ve been slowly applying some of the agile concepts and structures to our workflows. In an agency environment, where projects are fast, furious, and many at the same time, there is not always the luxury of doing full scrum processes.

In addition, I play both Product Owner and Scrum Master, which is less than ideal. I represent the client’s interests, prioritize backlogs, and also try to help the team organize themselves for delivery, remove their roadblocks, and basically keep them running smoothly. I think I play Product Owner well. But I’ve realized I’m not an awesome Scrum Master right now.

We need to shift towards more team choices where the team decides what to do next – I’m trying to adjust my phrasing and my approach to conversations so that the team feels more empowered to make choices on their own, that they don’t depend on me to tell them what to do. It’s an interesting shift. I feel like I’m forcing them to take more control – and that they don’t always want it!

It’s a good transition, and a necessary one as well. The process is a little bumpy, but we’re getting there. I have this vision of a group of awesome people who can discuss issues, make choices, and perform to their stated expectations all on their own initiative. A group that can control their own environment, and that feels not only empowered to make change, but a group that feels the ability to change and improve is their opportunity and obligation.

We’re gonna get there. Strap in and hunker down. We’re gonna get used to being uncomfortable. It’s a price of change that I’m willing to pay.

Who is going to look out for me?

Expanding spiritual capacity requires subordinating our own needs to something beyond our self-interest.  Because we often perceive our own needs as urgent, shifting attention away from them can prompt very primitive survival fears.  If I truly focus my attention on others, we worry, who is going to look out for me?

The Power of Full Engagement, Loehr, Schwartz

And so it goes in team building.  How do you convince a curmudgeonly team member to let go of fiercely protecting their personal needs in favor of the good of the team?  Fear – primitive survival fear – is not to be taken lightly.  What are they missing?  Trust of the team, most certainly.  Trust that their needs will be met.

It’s likely not resistance to new ideas out of a selfish or miserly spirit, but rather an indication of a perceived lack of safety and of trust.  Perhaps empathy is called for – seek first to understand.  Display the qualities you wish to embolden in others, oh fearless leader.