COVID-19 and Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

Well, no need to say that it’s been quite a week. I commented to my wife that I have never experienced three weeks of life like I have here. First, destruction I’ve seen first hand nearly everyday from an EF3 tornado that went through the middle of our town here in Tennessee, and people rallying like I’ve never seen (over 20,000 volunteers in our town of 30,000), and then the pandemic…

One recent change is that, for the first time ever, the Scrum Alliance is allowing the Certified ScrumMaster and other Scrum courses to be delivered online. Announced by the SA Product Owner as a “pivot,” it certainly is a change from what we had planned. I had classes listed for key cities from the Civil Rights movement – Birmingham, Memphis, and Lexington. I wanted to stand in the cities where so many other changes agents made a difference, and point to them as inspiration for the Scrum Masters in the class (check out March by John Lewis to be inspired like I was).

Well, with COVID-19, most people can’t meet in person. With the Scrum Alliance change, we had to make a bunch of changes. We’ve done that (the image shows the new “online” symbol below, and some of you may get an announcement shortly.

List of Scrum Alliance Virtual Classes

What stood out for me was a few lessons:

  1. Short feedback loops are vital. How can you know if you’re on track or not, except to talk, demo and decide.
  2. Data is (still) king. In a VUCA world, opinions are just…opinions. Who knows if this or that will happen? Make a hypothesis, then get data to back it up.
  3. Structure dictates so much of how we behave. The Scrum Alliance, as a non-profit membership organization, listened to feedback and pivoted in a very significant way with public classes. Scaled Agile, a private corporation, has not (only for private courses). In one Slack group that I’m a part of, there has been less than one post a day in a group of over 200. In another, six times that amount, and in a group 1/10 the size! Both are coaches and trainer groups.
  4. How we respond to challenge and change is what grows us, and part of the hero’s journey. It’s an opportunity to, despite personal difficulty, you put others first, stay centered and respond well. It’s a moment to be the servant leader you admire, like John Lewis.

Book Cover of March March Back Cover