In one of my past blog entries, I had written about how the ScrumMaster is the sinus node of a Scrum Team due to keeping the time and rhythm. I would like to pick up on this metaphor once again in order to visualise my thoughts.
On my last consulting job, a few Scrum Teams pushed us into shortening the Sprint Planning Meeting #1 and Sprint Planning Meeting #2 in order to make more time available for the actual programming work. However, already during the second Sprint after this time-saving measure, errors and inconsistencies began creeping up which led to additional expenses and work interruptions. This was simply due to the Team‘s lack of initial coordination. I know that the Team members had actually wished to give their best and to have more time available for dealing with challenges and their ideas for innovative solutions. Instead, this rushing and speeding had led to the stumbling of the entire Team.
Our heart can also start stumbling when it finds itself under immense stress. With its two chambers, our fist-size muscle works as both suction and pressure pump. An average of 100,000 contractions per day shoot about 10,000 litres of blood (filled with important nutrients and oxygen) through our organs and muscles. Whenever our hearts are racing and we can feel the blood pumping in our carotid artery – that‘s when our engine is working at its optimal efficiency. The heart reaches its maximum expansion while sucking in blood and its maximum contraction when pushing it out again. However, a high heart frequency at about 130 to 140 beats makes it difficult for our little pump to work in an optimal way. It begins beating more quickly. The German football player Philipp Lahm once said in an interview for „Fit for Fun“ in June 2012 that he could accelerate his heart to beating up to 206 to 210 times per minute. Not for very long, but he does manage it.
Now how do I get from the optimal heart beat to working in Scrum Teams?
It‘s very simple.
I absolutely understand that when people really enjoy their work, they would like to spend more time doing it. We can count ourselves lucky to have found the framework of Scrum which actually brings back and promotes the pleasure of doing one‘s job. However, the importance of the “optimal heart beat“ of a Scrum Team must not be disregarded. Innovative products should be developed in an environment of highly creative interaction by high potentials with different know-how who constantly align themselves to the needs of the Customer. For such an environment to run smoothly, feedback cycles require just as much “quality time“ as the development of new codes and solutions.
The well-trained hearts of athletes circulate more blood by way of using their heart beat than the hearts of the „unfit“. Additionally, the entire organism has had years to prepare itself and adapt to this kind of peak performance. Such an exercise takes time. Time which is necessary for our Scrum Team members to get used to each other, adjust and optimise the Team work. Time which is necessary to exchange requirements, expectations and potential solutions. In brief – time that is required to prepare and test the optimal mode of our little organism called the Scrum Team in order to successfully lead it to joyous top performances.
Scrum gives you the freedom and the right possibilities for reaching this goal. All we need is to work towards it with an open mind and in a disciplined and consequent manner.