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A Debate Between the Head and the Heart

"Who are you advocating to?"

What may have been intended as an innocent question became a powerful question for me.


A trigger to a long time frustration caused me to put out a provocative question on LinkedIn - "Is it time to rethink the Scrum roles?".

I suggested three roles that I have been flirting with - Composer, Creator and Coach.

These roles have captured my attention ever since they were described in this article in the Harvard Business Review - Three Kinds of Jobs that Will Thrive as Automation Advances. I was excited to draw parallels to the Scrum Roles - only I found them to be more accessible, more inclusive, more empowering, and in one word captured how a person could meaningfully contribute to an initiative.


The post generated a lot of attention. There were advocates and opposers, expressions of insight and curiosity, there were people who suggested I just move on from the framework and others advocated for staying in status quo because the cost of change would be unacceptable.

Thanks to the wisdom of the group, I learned a lot. I am very grateful for the civil discourse that evoked a lot of new questions and insights for me.

  • Some suggested that this a situation of Shu-Ha-Ri and that my question was just an indicator that I was ready for Ha or Ri?

But for me the 'shoe did not seem to fit' even in Shu. The current role names often generated a "Huh?".

What if we used language that generated an "Aha!"

  • Some reminded me that is no Scrum police who would take me to Agile jail if I changed the language. I know that (I have use that same language when I coach).

What was I holding on to with these names offered in the Scrum Guide? I hold a belief that creating clarity and shared understanding is being kind. Without that wouldn't there be confusion, anarchy, angst?

What if I gave my clients options with pros and cons and left THEM at choice?

  • One suggested that perhaps Larman's Laws were at play here. I questioned, were the names that I was attracted to a result of my own bias to organizational inertia?

Was I falling prey to what is described in Larman's Laws?

What if these new role names are actually challenging the current status quo (Scrum)?

  • Several Scrum trainers expressed that Scrum is flexible. It is only the entry point. It is meant to be changed.

Is that what the Scrum Guide says?

Here is an excerpt - The Scrum Guide contains the definition of Scrum. Each element of the framework serves a specific purpose that is essential to the overall value and results realized with Scrum. Changing the core design or ideas of Scrum, leaving out elements, or not following the rules of Scrum, covers up problems and limits the benefits of Scrum, potentially even rendering it useless.)

And, if Scrum is flexible, what is the frame of the Scrum Framework?

  • A few people rightly pointed out that major change to the Scrum framework will be 'too costly'.

Who stands to lose the most?

What may be gained by rethinking these names?

The most thought provoking question for me was

"Who are you advocating to?"

My initial response was. "To the authors of the Scrum Guide of course! Any change to the Scrum Guide would need to be made by them."

Then I reflected on this question and realized

It was my gut, my instincts, my heart were advocating to my head - saying,

"It is time for you to advocate on behalf of your clients for something better - wider inclusion, deeper clarity, greater empowerment."

So now what?

I will not be beholden to any framework. on behalf of my clients,

  • I will always offer something better when I see it!

  • I will design my coaching agreements so it is clear that I am framework and methodology agnostic.

  • I will share the principles and ethics I hold that inform my choices.

  • I will lay all my cards (all the options I have available to me) on the table with pros and cons, and invite my clients to a resonant choice!

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