Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why would I want to sit with that bunch of nutters?

Posted by agile skywalker

For several weeks, due to a lack of desk space, it was not possible to sit with the team in the same workspace. The only way to detect stuff on my radar was to get up and physically walk across the office to the team’s bullpen and try to glean from their body language, facial expressions and conversations what was going on. It’s easy to miss out on the opportunity to contribute, guide or support situations that could empower the team. So once space became available last week I was glad to move across and join the team. The experience got me thinking about the power of observation and about raising ones awareness and using it to empower the team in a constructive and insightful way.

The power of observation has huge benefits. Your ability to see and hear many different things becomes more vivid and intuitive and as your awareness begins to grow so does your ability to connect with the team and its dynamics. To achieve something of higher value it is imperative that you increase your value through what you know and ‘overstand’ (a Rasta term they believe conveys a higher way of reasoning).

“Higher values - improved results, are always the expression of a higher degree of conscious awareness.” - Bob Proctor.

In the Kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king. It’s generally one of those popular sayings that is universally accepted for its truth, and perhaps equally ignored. It’s true that most people have two fully functioning eyes however it’s not about whether you have one or two good ones - it’s really down to how well you use them.

It never ceases to fascinate me how often we tend to unconsciously ignore most of the information available to our senses. I guess for most of us if we don’t we may end up having information overload and burn out. So perhaps our ability to be blind and deaf to most of what we see and hear helps us to cope with our many daily survival challenges. Unfortunately there is a flip side to ignoring most of what we see and hear, because invariably we miss out on a lot of important stuff - team dynamics, interactions between people. Additionally our offices are becoming increasingly complex working environments riddled with politics and competing interests.

Whatever our role we tend to get so bogged down with being “busy” that we fail to notice and not see what is really going on, so perhaps in this Kingdom of the blind we may as well be blind. Those that have taken time to notice what is really going on around them and can easily pick up and filter stuff on their radar have a tremendous advantage. Improving your observation ability and the skill to respond creatively can offer huge benefits to you and your team:

  • Greater ‘overstanding’ of your team members.
  • Enhance your decision making ability.
  • Recognizing and modelling ‘success behavior’ (you define what success means for you).
  • Improve the way you help people.
  • Improve and help you identify the best way to positively influence people.
  • Discover new ways of resolving niggling and persistent issues.
  • Able to ‘See’ problems and opportunities early.

Such benefits contribute immensely to increasing my agility as a Scrum Master and the team’s energy to deliver. It’s great to be with the team in the bullpen and be able to contribute meaningfully to everyday issues as they arise.


We have a personal responsibility to be aware of what goes on around us. It is a choice most people fail to take because not only will they become accountable for their actions but also for the rising issue at hand. So they make it a point to consciously demonstrate an act of unawareness.... almost like the bystander effect.

Good read!

Comment by Anonymous

Now I know what to do about the nutters I've observed in my team! An excellent read and certainly one that has raised my powers of observation and awareness... I eagerly look forward to the next offering from Agile Skywalker!...

Comment by Anonymous

Agile Skywalker you are my hero - now it is all clear where I have been going wrong.

Comment by Anonymous

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
- Joan D. Vinge

Comment by Howard