location_city Toronto schedule Oct 30th 01:00 - 02:00 PM EDT place 205 A/B/C people 9 Interested

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene Brown shares her 10 Guideposts of Wholehearted Living. Number 7 on that list is “Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth”. This resonates strongly with the 8th agile principle about sustainable pace.

In the world of Scrum software development, it is all too easy to get caught up in pumping out user stories and increasing velocity sprint after sprint, but what does that type of hamster wheel mentality do to us physically, mentally, and spiritually? For that matter, what impact does it have on our products? Are we building fast things, or the right things? Are we making time to dream up big, new ideas and/or to build a cohesive team around our mission?

Work-life balance is a buzzword that we throw around, but how often does the culture of an organization support exactly the opposite? Hero culture is rewarded, and our output viewed as a measure of our worth on performance reviews. We set out to transform the world of work with agile and with Scrum, yet I’ve heard the Scrum sprint cycle described as a “hamster wheel”, an endless conveyor belt of backlog and sprint reviews that the developers cannot escape. This is not congruent with what we read in the agile values and principles.

I’m interested in inspiring a discussion about the pitfalls of a competitive exhausted culture, and how we in the Scrum community, even with the best of intentions, could be “accidentally responsible” for continuing to spin the hamster wheel. Hero culture has been discussed before, but have we addressed our own potential culpability in creating it? We need to make sure that the principles and practices of Scrum are being used for good, not for evil. It all starts with a conversation.

In this discussion, we will explore the dangers of exhaustion as a status symbol -- for our organizational culture, our teams, and ourselves. We will discuss the specific risks of inadvertently creating a competitive exhausted culture within an agile transformation, and the ways in which we can leverage the agile values and principles in order to mitigate those risks. Lastly, we will take a look inward to assess our own attitudes and views about work life balance.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

  • Introduction - Why is this important?
  • Examine the 8th agile principle- sustainable pace
  • Exhaustion as a status symbol - what does it mean?
  • What is sustainable pace? (hint: it’s different for everyone)
  • Measure their current team’s view on sustainable pace
  • Measure their own view on sustainable pace
  • Explore how Scrum practices, used properly, enable sustainable pace
  • Explore how easily Scrum practices can enable the opposite
  • Discuss red flags to spot - hamster wheel tendencies
  • Discuss how to avoid exhaustion as a status symbol
    • Working agreements
    • Estimation as a method to empower the team
    • Sprints as a heartbeat, not a constant death march
    • Avoiding hero culture
    • Speaking up as team members and leaders

Learning Outcome

Attendees will leave this session having done the following:

  • Examined the 8th agile principle
  • Measured their current team’s view on sustainable pace
  • Measured their own view on sustainable pace
  • Explored how Scrum practices, used properly, enable sustainable pace
  • Explored how easily Scrum practices can enable the opposite
  • Learned red flags to spot
  • Learned an antidote to exhaustion as a status symbol

Target Audience

ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, Leaders, HR, Development Teams

Prerequisites for Attendees

Familiar with the 12 agile principles, specifically the 8th principle: Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Understand the basic Scrum rhythms



schedule Submitted 5 years ago

  • Dave Sharrock

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    60 Mins
    Don't underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems.
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  • Sunny Dhillon

    Sunny Dhillon / Hugo Medeiros - Spice up your scrum with improv!!

    60 Mins

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    Many of us think we can’t do improv. We get stuck in our head and panic, afraid we might not know what to do or say. This workshop involves highly interactive group activities that are fun and fast paced designed to help communicate effectively and think on your feet. Games are intentionally ordered to focus first on creating safety for the groups before advancing to more complex topics as collaboration and risk taking.

    Improv will make you think about your team, your organisation and yourself differently, in the context of your agile environment.

  • Richard Dolman

    Richard Dolman - Mirror, Mirror on the wall, what are the worst Vanity Metrics of them all?

    90 Mins

    Let’s face it, Metrics are a staple of virtually every IT organization.

    Unfortunately, they are often poorly understood and horribly misused.

    But what are Metrics anyway? It’s just Data, right? Specifically, it’s empirical data. Learning from, and basing our decision-making on, empirical data is a good thing.

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  • Sunny Dhillon

    Sunny Dhillon / Daniel M Lynn - Powerful Observational Techniques For Coaching Teams

    90 Mins

    Starting out as a new agile coach is difficult. Where do you go? How do you start? Learn to leverage a coaching approach that focuses on observations and to form insights and goals.

    You will uncover a structured approach to coaching which aims at improving team performance by providing clear guidance and structure to the coaches and scrum masters. Through a structured approach, coaches and scrum masters will be able to better target their efforts and create demonstrable improvement in teams.

    A structured coaching approach can be applied to, but is not limited to:

    • Agile, Lean, Scrum project practices: planning, tracking, improving.
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    Attendees will leave this session with a structured approach to guide their ongoing coaching efforts and share those experiences with others in the organization.