THE VALUE OF CREATIVITY
I recently attended a course hosted by Geoff Watts and Paul Goddard to achieve the Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) certification. While I can highly recommend their course to anyone thinking about acquiring A-CSM certification. That is not what this post is about.
During one of the workshop activities, we were split into two groups of eight and tasked with coming up with thirteen Scrum Master values in about twenty minutes. Seemed straight forward. My group decided to spend five minutes come up with suggestions on stickie notes individually to be compared as a group. Much scribbling ensued.
One of my suggestions was creativity. In fact, I think it was the first one I wrote down. When I submitted it to the group's board of sticky notes, it sat somewhat alone in the mixture of suggestions that made obvious sense to the rest of the group.
Courage, respect, honesty etc. All fine suggestions mostly centred on and around the core scrum values. I should not be surprised in the slightest, given that the group was entirely comprised of Scrum Masters.
In the end, we had around forty suggestions in total and we had to whittle them down to thirteen. Some of them were clearly popular choices and were immediately chosen without debate. After some discussion, others were merged as synonymous. Eventually, we found ourselves interrogating each one individually to see if they were to be kept or binned. When at last, one of the group pointed at my stickie and said, "I am not sure about this creativity one at all." This was met with general agreement from the rest of the group.
At the time I did not say much, I knew time was getting short and I convinced myself that this was not the moment to start what I assumed would lead to an in-depth discussion. But my heart sank a little as I took the stickie note off the board and gently surrendered onto the discard pile.
I did not fight it. I understood the group's reasons and that we had a time-sensitive goal. But something in that moment told me that my silence was a mistake. That sentiment still echoes in my memory and this is what this post is about.
I think it is safe to say that all too often in time precious situations, we as people who want to do what it takes to meet a goal, will see creativity (be it culture, art, music, architecture etc) as a 'nice to have'. Something that we don't REALLY need. When push comes to shove creativity takes a back seat. The exercise from the A-CSM course was, in my eyes, a microcosm of this behaviour.
Since I am now in a space in which I have no pressure and have had time to reflect, I wanted to articulate my reasons for suggesting creativity as a value for Scrum Masters. I will miss not having the debate opportunity of that workshop setting. But I hope someone might read this and want to have a chat!
In my eyes, creativity is an essential value for anyone who wants to be a Scrum Master.
A Scrum Master should be encouraging and nurturing creativity in their teams. Cultivating a safe environment so it can flourish.
Creativity is how we improve, think a different way, find new methods and challenge the known to reveal the unknown.
Within the day to day, a Scrum Master needs to be creative with how they approach things. Be it the crafting a retrospective in order to help the team tackle a difficult situation or a workshop that explains the finer points of Scrum to stakeholders in a way which inspires them to engage with the process.
Creativity is taking the mundane and making it interesting. It is how we innovate, grow, do what was once thought impossible or not thought of at all! It is the power we harness to achieve our dreams.
As you may be able to tell from my choice of words or the height of the soapbox I seem to be standing on. I feel quite passionately about this subject. Which does make me question whether my zeal blinkers my view somewhat. It seems to lead me to doubt and temper my conviction.
I should have said SOMETHING. I should have stood my ground. It is an important point to me and I feel that as much as I let myself down, I ultimately I let my classmates down by not sharing.
I hope I am not alone in feeling that creativity is more than a 'nice to have' and that it is fundamental.
For some reason, I am reminded of a late scene from the 2010 film Megamind where the eponymous anti-hero confronts the villain he created.
Without any judgement on my fellow classmates. I think valuing and embracing creativity is the difference between a Scrum Master doing a job and a Scrum Master performing their role.
Because it is a performance.
Anyone can read the Scrum Guide and have a crack at the job, rules as written.
But for individuals who are drawn to this line of work through their passion and desire to inspire people as I was. Creativity is an absolute value...
... in my opinion anyway!
(I hope you enjoyed reading that last part. It is the closest I will get to blowing my own horn. I already feel weird about it, but I stand by it all the same.)
As a side note, I hope Geoff and Paul will not mind me revealing that my internal conflict was rendered moot since the exercise was a ruse for a different lesson. It did make me feel a bit silly about the emotional attachment and anguish my suggestion's rejection caused me!
Anyway, I feel much better now I have off my chest and broadcast into the void of the internet for no one/anyone to read.
I think the word is cathartic.
Today's quote comes from :
“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.”
Be seeing you!