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Scrum Is Like a Spoon Full of Sugar

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Scrum Is Like a Spoon Full of Sugar

It helps the medicine of failure go down much more smoothly because it prevents it from truly happening in the first place.

· Agile Zone ·
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Failure teaches success

A much better way to conceptualize failure

We are all scared of failure; we feel shame each and everytime we don't achieve our desired results. The taste of failure is never sweet.

But to succeed, you need to not only accept failure, but learn from it as well.

The value of failure

The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it. - Walt Disney's The Lion King

At the time of my writing this blog, The Lion King (remake) is about to show in the theater. But regardless of the change in graphics, the film still keeps the original message: “the value of failure.”

If you still remember, Simba is shy, gentle, and born as a prince, but he runs away from himself, from his destination. But when he finally finds his bravery, faces his past hurts and failures, and learns from them, he finally becomes the Lion King he was meant to be. 

But again, to become a king, he had to taste many failures and challenges.

Our dreams are never wrong

“If a cat sits on a hot stove, that cat won't sit on a hot stove again. That cat won't sit on a cold stove either. That cat doesn't like stoves.”
 - Mark Twain

Why? Because the cat thinks a stove is always hot. It's learned the lesson, but it doesn’t understand the root cause.

It’s the same with our lives: You follow your dream, you fail, you realize that your vision is wrong, then you stop it. But the idea of your vision is never wrong. It just happened in the wrong moment, with the wrong way of going about it, or the wrong people involved.

Around 12 years ago, I ran a startup in Vietnam; my product was a service to support people in need of transportation as well as the drivers. I realized that the need for transportation for people who didn’t have a car or motorbike was huge, but there was a gap to connect them with the drivers, who also needed to sell their service.

I failed after one year, unable to figure out how to connect the drivers and their customers. I ultimately realized that the website was not enough; I needed the support from technology, like the smartphone with GPS and 3G Internet, which could help connect the drivers and customers anywhere and anytime. (At that time, the smartphone and 3G were not popular in Vietnam).

I thought I had failed and that my idea was wrong, but we of course know today that my idea was far from wrong. Companies like Uber and Grab are successful because they did it at the right time, in the right way, in the era of the smartphone. And with that, the gap between drivers and customers is now closed more than ever.

If you stumble, grow dispirited, and then quit, you truly fail. But if you treat the failure like a chance to learn and understand why you failed, you can improve and adapt a plan. 

Failure teaches success.

Scrum can make failure a little easier to swallow

Creating a small experiment loop for the idea or assumption is essential. If the experiment is right, that's great news! If it’s wrong? You will have a chance to learn while also staying on track, since the risk is limited and controlled.

From this, you can more easily accept the failure and also learn from it quickly. That’s the basic tenet of Empiricism, which Scrum is of course based on.

And that’s the reason people always say that the Scrum framework can help to maximize the value of your product by collecting the data quickly (Sprint by Sprint), and then giving you the space to inspect and adapt as needed. Failure averted, as long as you're willing to learn and keep going.

Further reading

When Human Error Is a Good Thing

Forget About 'Fail Fast,' Just Fail Well

Topics:
empiricism ,scrum ,failure ,continuous improvement ,continuous learning

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