Things happen in their own time

[The following is my piece of advice for Yves Hanoulle’s collection “Tips from the Agile Trenches“.]

What type of person picks a relatively new career like “Scrum Master”? A role that often involves working in organizations that transition to agile and go through lots of uncertainty. A role that focuses on “inspect and adapt”, e.g. change. What type of person indeed? Probably a person that is curious and excited to try new things. Does that sound like you?

Here’s the thing though, different people have different degrees of “eagerness to try stuff out”. As a Scrum Master you are likely very near the “Yay, let’s try this”-end of the scale. Which means that most of the other members in the team will be closer to the “tried and true”-end scale than you, i.e. less eager for change.

It can be frustrating if you can hardly wait to experiment while others want to wait and see. At least it was for me. I was sooo impatient. Why didn’t the others feel the same urgency and thrill I did?

I’ve since realized that things happen in their own time. We’re asking people to think and act in a new way after they’ve been seeped in the “traditional” way for years and years. That takes time. You can only help people with what they are ready to hear and with the problems they are aware they’re having. Nowadays, instead of pushing harder against ever-increasing resistance, I’m planting seeds – ideas for what the team can try. Sometimes the team runs with something right away, sometimes they come back to a suggestion after weeks, sometimes they come up with a different solution, sometimes the problem goes away. All of these are fine.

So please don’t beat yourself up (or forcefeed the team) if things don’t seem to move fast enough. Remember that they are likely not on the same page. Yet. Be patient, sow the seeds and be there to water the seedling when it breaks out of the soil towards the sun.

And the best of all: Change is like a muscle. The more new things you try out as a team, the easier it gets. Eventually big changes become easy.

[Curious about the other tips in “Tips from the Agile Trenches“? Use this link for a 75% discount :)]