Law of Success 2.0
HK: Time moves on, so I want to have few questions about success. What is the definition of your success as an engineer?
JS: Well my definition of success has to do with making the world a better place. If I can make a contribution so that people are happier, better motivated, more successful then I’m successful. Scrum’s goal was based on work I have done with micro-enterprise lending. Professor Yunus in Bangladesh came up with a program where he’d give really poor people a little bit of money and they’d create their own business plans and then execute them. They eventually could boot strap themselves. Scrum was designed to do the same thing. Let’s give the team a little bit of capability and then let them figure out how to go really fast. So Scrum was designed to take development teams who were always late and under pressure and turn them into teams who were having a lot of fun, a lot of energy, building great products. And so the goal was actually to release the teams from their chains. They were under pressure from management; they were getting beat up all the time by management. I said to them, “You could live a better life. You could have a life where you’re innovating, where you’re having fun, where it’s a joy to come into work.” You can do it in a way that you can build so much software, you’d have five to ten times more software so you could do a lot more with a lot less work. It’s a much better life, and it empowers the people to take the initiative. That thrust is relevant to work, it’s relevant to politics, it’s relevant to the health and wellbeing of the people. That’s success. It’s to help people be great, that’s my goal. And Scrum is doing that for people. It’s amazing what’s happened. It’s a huge surprise to me. It works in every culture, it works in every country, and it works in every company. It’s just an amazing thing. And people have taken it and they’ve taken it there themselves. So it’s not me, it’s them doing it. So my success is that I’ve helped facilitate making that possible.
HK: Just mind-blowing. So your success is not about money.
JS: Here’s the secret and the core of real success. It comes from the heart, it comes from giving, it comes from expansively helping others. If you do that well you will have plenty of money. I don’t have any problems with money. I don’t have more money than Bill Gates, but I have enough money. Scrum has given me that. People all over the world want me to come and talk about Scrum everywhere all the time. Every time I need some money I just go someplace. People always want to hear about it.
HK: Can you give me your advice to be successful in general?
JS: Things today are built by teams. Obviously individuals are still a direct source of inspiration and innovation. But individuals can’t even execute really good ideas without building a really good team around them. So people need to learn to work with teams, that’s what Scrum is all about. They need to figure out how they can actually help people. We learned that in Silicon Valley. I spent some years working there and that’s affected Scrum as well. How do those companies in Silicon Valley get started? It’s always by a small team. It’s always with a great idea. It’s a world-changing idea. They are having fun at Google, and they have more money than they know what to do with. But it wasn’t for going after the money; it was actually a world changing idea and creating an environment where people could have a lot of fun executing it.
HK: Thank you so much for your time.