Saturday, January 03, 2009

Scrum Makes You Feel Better


"The types of activities which people all over the world consistently report as most rewarding - that is, which make them feel best - involve a clear objective, a need for concentration so intense that no attention is left over, a lack of interruptions and distractions, clear and immediate feedback on progress toward the objective, and a sense of challenge - the perception that one's skills are adequate, but just adequate, to cope with the task at hand."
________________________________________________________________________

An interesting psychological finding
Posted by: "Nancy Van Schooenderwoert" vanschoo@acm.org nancyvanschooenderwoert
Date: Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:54 pm ((PST))

I was searching in my copy of "Lean Thinking" by Womack and Jones, and noticed this interesting passage in the chapter on 'Flow'. The authors mention a psychological researcher named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (Someone's got a tougher last name than me!)

Here is the passage I thought might interest you:

"He has spent the last twenty-five years reversing the usual focus of psychology. Instead of asking what makes people feel bad (and how to change it) he has explored what makes people feel good, so that positive attributes of experience can be built into daily life."

"His method has been to attach beepers, which sound at random intervals, to his research subjects. When the beeper sounds the subject is asked to record in a notebook what she or he was doing and how they were feeling. After sifting decades of notebook data from thousands of subjects around the world, he has reached some very simple conclusions."

"The types of activities which people all over the world consistently report as most rewarding - that is, which make them feel best - involve a clear objective, a need for concentration so intense that no attention is left over, a lack of interruptions and distractions, clear and immediate feedback on progress toward the objective, and a sense of challenge - the perception that one's skills are adequate, but just adequate, to cope with the task at hand."

"When people find themselves in these conditions they lose their self-consciousness and sense of time. They report that the task itself becomes the end rather than a means to something more satisfying, like money or prestige. Indeed, and very conveniently for us, Csikszentmihalyi reports that people experiencing these conditions are in a highly satisfying psychological state of flow."

This gives an indication of why test driven development is so compelling for people once they know the basic technique. It also applies to sports and the arts. There the whole point is to do something that's just at the limit of your ability and keep pushing the edge.

It reminds me of a recent interesting post over on Jeff Sutherland's website. It's called "Scrum Makes You Smarter." It reports on a study that suggests voluntary pressure in the form of audacious goals taken on by high performance teams makes them produce more neuron stem cells.
............................................
Nancy Van Schooenderwoert, Lean-Agile Partners Inc.
www.leanagilepartners.com

7 comments:

PairCoaching said...

Michael (Mihaly) has a book called flow.

http://www.librarything.com/work/13383/book/11104676

Martin Proulx said...

Although the statement can be used to promote test driven development, I believe it is probably a better selling statement for SCRUM overall as it encompasses the philosophy behind self-managed teams.

akimball said...

Saying the a methodology can be related to the experience of "flow" as defined by Csikszentmihalyi is stretching things a bit too much. "Flow" is something that happens very periodically in a life - many people never experience it. As for following principles that maximize happiness, I think every proponent of any methodology would say this is true. To go "timeless" and transpersonal while working on a feature is a joke.

David said...

If you took these ideas too far, you could end up with iterations and resulting in large backlogs. Balancing self management with time frames is something the Scrum Master needs to be careful about

Regards,
David
http://www.jacksguides.com

Joe Little said...

It is easy to remember how to pronounce his last name. He says say it like this: Chicks-Sent-Me-High

Puts me in a flow state right away. (And maybe a '60s state of mind as well.)

Regards, Joe

PS. This all falls under two important principles of Scrum (and life): Have fun. Don't take yourself too seriously.

Mathias said...

Yes. This is the experience of being "in the now". A state where everything just happens through you in unfiltered expression from the core of the egoless true you.

Check out Eckhart Tolle and his book The Power of Now, he has this down so incredible deep that all other books of "flow" are just surface level observations of how deep this state is.

Erik Van Scheitzen said...

Scrum makes the product owner grey very, very quickly (or bald, depending on the severity of the team's failures :))