This is a review and a comment about the great article of Tobias Mayer: “The Heart of Scrum.” [1]

“The longer I teach and coach Scrum, the more I become convinced that the task board is the heart of Scrum. Without the task board there is no center, no focus, no hub.”

I completely agree. The task board is the center. Every team needs to have a tool that enables it to be self-referential. (A very good definition about what self-referential really means you will find here: [2]) Any system that wants to self-organize will need to have a possibility to get feedback about its own status. In Scrum the task board is the feedback mechanism.

“The task board generates collaboration. It is visual, it is tactile, it is larger than life (it is much, much larger than a computer screen).”

This is exactly what I mean above. The task board enables the feedback. “The task board tells the truth, and it spreads the message: we are unafraid.” This is a very cool idea. That the task board gives the notion to everybody: “Come, have a look – we tell you the real status.”

“Scrum is the antithesis of the corporate cubicle divide-and-conquer mentality. We don’t need table tennis and foosball to appease us, to create an artificial work-life balance. We don’t need fun as an afterthought to work. Work is fun.”

I have never thought about this aspect. But again I underwrite Tobias idea. The task board stands as a symbol for collaboration. It brings developer out of their dualism with the machine and out of their ego-centric worldview. It creates a team spirit. It creates the idea, we are together, even if we only share this for a couple of moments. It stops the isolation of the modern industrial knowledge worker and creates a new team.

Tobias can express this much better: “Scrum is about whole people, not about skills. Scrum is not I but we. [...] Scrum is about tribes [...] [a] tribal member needs a sense of belonging. [...]“

I agree again. Scrum is about life, it is about creating a learning organism. Some of us call this the Scrum-Team. I join Tobias in the idea that Scrum is about more than being a cool process tool. (That is why I completely disagree with comments that Scrum is a tool or a process.)

“To live, to truly live, Scrum needs a heart. That heart is the task board. Without [...] it loses its focus, and without an outside controller [...]  to continually pump life into it, the effort will soon dissolve back into the dysfunctional process that it was brought in to replace. Without its heart, Scrum has no power.”

The last statement of Tobias is very important. Also my observation is that if you have no one who really cares about the heart, who makes the task board again attractive, who works on a frequent basis with the team, the whole things falls apart. Why? That is the question, why is the whole Scrum framework so weak? My 2 cents for this: Because it needs effort. In a great book: Biomimicry, Janine Benyus,  makes clear, that nature adds information to matter so that it generates a structure [3]. This adding of information is a continuous effort. In Scrum we need to do this effort also. If we do not spend this effort, the second law of thermodynamics will win. (The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. [4])

I strongly recommend to read the full article. It is a well written article that can show you how much love you can put into a simple thing like a task board.


[1] The Heart of Scrum, by Tobias Mayer

[2] Niklas Luhmann, Social Systems

[3] Biomimicry, Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine M. Benyus


Avatar of Boris Gloger
„Mut“ ist jener Wert von Scrum, mit dem sich Boris Gloger am stärksten identifiziert. Er hat in seinem eigenen Leben keine Angst vor radikalen Entscheidungen und vor dem Glauben an eine Idee. Für kein Geld der Welt würde er sich Regeln unterwerfen, die keinen Sinn machen. Er glaubt an Scrum, weil es nicht nur bessere Produkte, sondern auch eine bessere und menschlichere Arbeitswelt schaffen kann.
  • Tobias Mayer

    Thank you Boris. I like your riffing on my post, and adding additional ideas to think about. — Tobias

  • Gabriel

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