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Posted By - Geoff Watts
If you’re anything like me (and a large proportion of the population) you’ll love a good conspiracy theory?
Conspiracy theories are like magnets that attract curious minds, pulling them into an alternate reality full of intrigue and suspense. Some popular examples include the moon landing hoax (a “giant leap” for conspiracies), the flat Earth theory (a round of applause for defying gravity), the belief that Elvis is still alive (we CAN go on together with suspicious minds) and the many explanations for the assassination of JFK (I’ve seen where Oswald supposedly took his shot).
Now, the orthodoxy will tell you there is no connection to the world of Scrum Mastery. But let me tell you a secret…it’s a conspiracy!
While it may seem like a far-fetched idea, there’s a treasure trove of hidden wisdom we can unearth from this enigmatic world to supercharge our Scrum Mastery. In this blog post, we’ll dive into these parallels and see how great Scrum Masters can leverage some of the tactics used by conspiracy theorists to foster culture change in organisations.
When you look past the mainstream media (or surface-level Scrum training courses) and look at what makes these theories so enticing, I’m sure you’ll agree that actually it’s more than just a coincidence.
In both our Scrum Mastery Pathway and Product Mastery Pathway we cover the topics of cultural change and bringing people along with us on our journey of challenging the status quo. Because, let’s be honest, when it comes to establishing culture change in an organisation, Scrum Masters, agile coaches, Product Owners and Product Managers face several challenges reminiscent of conspiracy theory dilemmas:
Are you ready to navigate the murky waters of cultural change and guide your teams and organisation towards a brighter, more agile future? Well, grab your tinfoil hat, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get to work!
It turns out there are a number of basic human desires that drive the popularity of conspiracy theories and by understanding these innate desires. In our Scrum Mastery Pathways, we teach how Great Scrum Masters use those insights to nudge organisations towards change. Here are a few examples:
By understanding the tactics used by conspiracy theorists, great Scrum Masters can tackle these challenges and accelerate culture change:
A healthy dose of skepticism is an essential trait for both conspiracy theorists and Scrum Mastery. While conspiracy theorists question established narratives, great Scrum Masters question existing processes and practices to identify opportunities for improvement. By encouraging teams to question the status quo, Scrum Masters can drive innovation and help organisations evolve.
Encourage teams to question existing processes and practices, and be open to new ideas and solutions.
Conspiracy theories often revolve around the notion of change—whether it’s a hidden agenda, a global shift, or a transformative event. Similarly, Scrum Mastery is about embracing change and helping teams adapt to new environments and ways of working. By studying the strategies employed by conspiracy theorists to cope with uncertainty, great Scrum Masters develop techniques to help teams navigate change and uncertainty more effectively.
Conspiracy theorists rely on the power of collaboration and communication to gather and share information. They form communities, discuss ideas, and collectively analyse data. Great Scrum Masters also promote collaboration and communication within teams, ensuring that members work together effectively and exchange ideas freely. The open exchange of information is key to developing a shared understanding of team goals and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Foster an environment where teams can share ideas and work together effectively, breaking down silos and promoting a shared vision.
Conspiracy theories often rely on storytelling to captivate and persuade their audience. Great Scrum Masters are also skilled at storytelling, as they need to communicate complex ideas and concepts to teams and stakeholders. By understanding the techniques used by conspiracy theorists to craft compelling narratives, Scrum Masters can improve their storytelling skills and better influence the teams they work with.
Craft compelling narratives to illustrate the benefits of change and the potential consequences of maintaining the status quo.
Conspiracy theories often tap into cognitive biases that make them attractive and viral. It turns out there’s a whole rogues’ gallery of cognitive biases that can pull the wool over our eyes in the context of Scrum Mastery. Here’s a small selection:
Understanding these cognitive biases and their role in the appeal of conspiracy theories can help Scrum Masters promote Scrum Mastery and recognise potential pitfalls in their own thinking and communication. By being aware of these biases, great Scrum Masters can work to mitigate their impact on team dynamics and decision-making.
Although conspiracy theories and Scrum Mastery may seem worlds apart, they share intriguing parallels that can help great Scrum Masters foster culture change within organisations. By leveraging the tactics used by conspiracy theorists and addressing the specific challenges of implementing change, great Scrum Masters can help organisations embrace new ways of working, drive innovation, and achieve success.
Serious disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to promote misinformation or propaganda. The goal is to explore the parallels between conspiracy theories and Scrum Mastery to help accelerate culture change within organisations.
So, let’s take inspiration from the world of conspiracy theories (without promoting misinformation) and harness these tactics to accelerate culture change and uncover the truth about how to liberate our organisations!
Keep an open mind, question the status quo, and never stop spreading your message. Who knows what other unexpected connections we may find along the way? Happy hunting!
Sunstein, C. R., & Vermeule, A. (2009). Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures. Journal of Political Philosophy, 17(2), 202-227. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2008.00325.x
Brotherton, R. (2015). Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories. Bloomsbury Publishing
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Science, 185(4157), 1124-1131. DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4157.1124
Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises. Review of General Psychology, 2(2), 175-220. DOI: 10.1037/1089-26126.96.36.199
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497