When discipline is viewed as a platform of support rather than a barrier to flexibility, it can act as a mechanism of team empowerment.
Discipline can be as simple as starting a meeting on time, finishing on time, and having a strict definition of ‘ready’. They are the small, agreed behaviors to which team members adhere with a view to mindfully improving team cohesion and respect.
It’s Adam’s view that with discipline, healthy habits can be fostered that support high functioning teams.
“I was a Product Owner in a project where there were 23 teams and a general mindset of getting through this sprint, then another sprint, and another sprint, and so on, just get through the sprint however we could.”
“Then we started to become more disciplined in the sprint.”
“Yes, it was tough in the first month because we were trying to do two things at once. But after that, it was smooth sailing. And the team was able to continue improving and growing as a high-performing team. In fact, others in the organization were wanting to be part of that team.”
It was also observed that the teams that lacked discipline would experience problems.
So what should happen if team members didn’t embrace a disciplined approach?
“If someone comes unprepared, then it’s important to make the purpose of the meeting clear and how their actions do not support that purpose.”
“It’s about focus. During product grooming, for example, if people start to talk about a particular ticket, then it’s about bringing the focus back to why we are having this meeting and what we are aiming to achieve as an outcome for that ceremony.”
Of course, the Scrum Master helps keep this discipline.
In terms of their retro, Adam added that once a team understands and appreciates the structure their discipline has built, they are far more focused and efficient, without having to engage in System 2 thinking, as described in the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
“Having a clear process keeps things easy. Teams don’t want to have to worry about things such as which room or which technology they are using. Their focus is on the actual problem.”