Principals lead the conflict that drives success

As part of my Certified Scrum Master training I was provided with a reading list.  One of the books “Software For You Head” by Jim and Michele McCarthy had a particularly striking comment about Team Check-In.

“When smart individuals intensify their presence (a requisite characteristic of smartness), their resulting expressions of integrity lead to conflict.  Conflict, in turn, will tend to line people up behind what they care about, which is, at heart, the definition of passion.  The maturing of passion creates the conditions that allow for great results.”

The foundation for this type of conflict to exist in teams requires that the the team poses principals of Courage, Trust and Respect.  In teams where individuals lack any one of these principals, our conflict will tend to isolate members and silence that passionate voice that drives greatness.

As a Scrum Master I am present in each stage of the software development life-cycle   Kicking off new releases, or retrospectives by re-introducing the Scrum values and principals as the spirit of the meeting helps to ensure that our meetings are conducted in a manner that fosters this healthy conflict.

Before each retrospective, I share the following with my team.

Retrospective Prime Directive

Norm Kerth – Project Retrospectives
Chris Sims – The Elements of Scrum

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

At the end of a project everyone knows so much more.  Naturally we will discover decisions and actions we wish we could do over.  This is wisdom to be celebrated…

The pain and struggle that led to learning should be honored.  In this way, the team can benefit and build on the lessons and the learning that took place.  If we finger-point, blame and embarrass, people will be unwilling to share, and the opportunity to improve will be lost.

It is in this spirit that we hold our retrospective today…


Bfrank Colson