Have you had this experience ? You are working with experienced agilists and are asking questions around why they are doing things the way they are ? What is the value it is adding ? What is the problem that is being solved ? And the answer you get it, “We have to do it this way because we are in the Shu phase and that means we repeat the process exactly!”

And that is the end of that!

Or is it ?

It doesn’t sit well with me! It feels tighter than it should! It feels like a Shu box (get it ? Shoe Box ? I know, everyone else grimaces as well, only I couldn’t resist).

If we are trying to get to a place of exceptional agile performance, then how do we learn the basics of Agile without this becoming the goal ? How do we learn with Shu as a starting point not the end ? I ask because the Shu Box seems to have everyone obsessed with the quest to do agile the right way. Don’t break the rules because (well no-one can tell me why).

Here is why this isn’t working so well for me. Is there only one right way to get exceptional agile delivery ? There wasn’t one right way to break the diving world record. In fact, doing it the way the others had done it was the wrong way for me. Yes I had to master the basics and then I had to break those apart and come up with a new way to get to where I wanted to go.

When we focus only on Shu we shift our focus and instead of conversations that allow teams to explore how they are doing their work and how they could be improving, we get stuck in conversations around what the right way is, whose framework and or guru is right and the very popular, why I am wrong!

When we focus on Shu we stop talking about what is working and how to get the work to flow and even worse, we stop talking about how to get value to the customer. Agile becomes about the process not about the result.

Nothing is more useless than being right! Ask anyone who has ever been in a car accident where they were in the right and still ended up in a crash.

Being right is one of the fundamentally values and beliefs that drive non-agile mindsets and unilateral control. When we are trying to be right, we are trying to win or even worse, the rest of us are focused on avoiding losing and being blamed.

When we are trying to be right, we are trying to be safe… safe from being judged and found wanting and so having to think of ourselves as somehow unworthy.

When we are focused on only one right way, we stop being able to explore and find new possibilities. We set ourselves up to have one experience, for one and only one outcome.

We set ourselves up to pursue mastery of the perfect beginning totally forgetting that Shu is a starting point not the goal.

When we get obsessed with being right we can never leave Shu and if we can never leave Shu how will we get to exceptional delivery ?

Shu is all about repeating one, right way…… so that you can learn about the basics and start to modify them and master them and tailor them to your uniqueness!

Are you so focused on Shu that you have lost sight of the rest of the journey ? What if Shu is a much, much smaller step than we think it is ? What if that step happens in weeks rather than months ?

What if the way we coach needs to change so that we are coaching people to use the basics to understand and evolve ? Do your coaching inquiries allow for that ?