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Change or Die

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Feb 25, 2016

Has anyone ever told you, “People don’t change!”


Don’t believe them!  People can and do change.  Believe what they’re saying as true about themselves, “I can’t/won’t/don’t believe I can change!”

The late Dr. Wayne Dwyer was right, “When we judge others we don’t define them, we define ourselves!”

You don’t need to argue or confront THEIR belief.  You have learned something valuable about the person you are conversing with.  Remember it.   

Change or Die

Change or Die is the mantra of Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.  Several weeks ago I searched on YouTube for something I could share at a monthly meeting on Scrum. What I found surprised me.  The video below is striking, sentimental, and tugs at your emotions.  It shares how the Eagle is required to make painful changes mid-life or it will not survive.

Perhaps you share a belief, as I do, if it occurs in nature than it has substance and value to us as human beings.  We can and should learn from it.  From what we learn in nature it requires us to take action.

The Rebirth of the Eagle

The story of the eagle as portrayed in this short video should make you acknowledge the value of Scrum’s mantra, CHANGE OR DIE!

Unfortunately the story is false.  Eagles don’t live until 70.  They only reach 30 years of age. Furthermore they don’t have to go through this challenging change. states: Although this tale may provide a vivid illustration of the philosophy (presented on the final slide) that sometimes one must shed the past in order to move forward (or, as often expressed, "In order to rebuild, you must first tear down"), it is merely a myth that strays far from the reality of an eagle's life, according to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center: go to Rebirth of the Eagle for the complete details.


Don’t be.  There are plenty of stories of change in nature and in history to convince you that Change or Die is a mantra we all need to take seriously. It’s why if Scrum isn't a part of your management philosophy it soon should be.

As we shared in Reframing - When 2016 Brings Struggles, the emperor moth is a classic case of change and what occurs when someone or something short changes it.  

Gum Emperor Moth – Hatching  

The caterpillar that lies inside the cocoon will never become the beautiful butterfly if someone cuts open the cocoon prematurely. It is the struggle itself that allows the butterfly to emerge as a strong, new creature of nature.

Jeff Sutherland wrote Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, to reveal and explain the Scrum management system to businesses outside the world of technology. Scrum’s origins are in the software industry.  It achieved remarkable success.  Anywhere from 400 to 800%!

In the opening chapter Sutherland describes the chaos at the FBI following 9/11 and the department’s struggles to modernize and create an effective computer system to help them fight the war on terror. The story is one of the biggest software debacles of all time.  Scrum rescued it.

Sutherland relates his discovery in Vietnam as a young jet pilot and his experience at West Point.  He describes lessons learned sleeping in the same room Dwight D Eisenhower did. While attending the United States Military Academy in the early 1960s as a cadet he helped transform L2  company, the “Loose Deuce,” at the bottom of West Point parade competition formations rankings for more than a century into number one at the Academy.

One of the problems Scrum identifies and solves is simple:  Make Work Visible!

Sutherland believes the #1 problem for most organizations is lack of a single, clear, ordered backlog for products and projects.

• This leads to confusion, wheel spinning, and demotivated employees which results in missed dates, excuses, and finger pointing,

• Fixing this problem can quickly double the production of an organization and double the revenue per unit of production.

• From an investors point of view, increasing business value delivery of the same organization by 400% this year needs to be the CEO's top priority.

Scrum Product Ownership is Sutherlands’s solution, providing these Acceptance Tests:

• Every team has a clear, ordered backlog every sprint so they know exactly what they need to do and in what order.

• Teams are stable. No teams are raided for people to start new projects. Backlog flows to stable teams.

If this sounds intriguing, stay tuned.  We’ll discover what Dwight D. Eisenhower learned and how he planned for success on D-Day.  We’ll learned how Sutherland learned Plans Are Worthless and why planning is everything in his tour of duty in Vietnam, why Gant charts don’t work, and more importantly how you can get your teams to be more successful. 

One of my coaching partners, and the man who helped me with overcoming my cancer through meditation, Alan Fendrich, Advanced Hiring System sent me a video from the The Guitar that shares the value of change. The movie, while fictional, reinforces how miracles can occur when we change.

If you’ve not discovered Scrum, you don’t realize the miracles your team can accomplish.  I’ll share the video Alan sent along with other ideas on change and more lessons from Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland next blog.

Topics: change, Pace of Change, Scrum

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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