Learning process

Facing the daunting challenge of Scrum feeling overwhelming or forced upon your team? Discover how Scrumban's step-by-step approach makes Scrum's introduction smoother and more engaging!


SHU-HA-RI is a concept that helps us understand the stages of learning a new skill, like adopting the Scrum framework. Let's break it down in simpler terms:

Beginning Stage (Shu): When we start learning something new, like Scrum, we often just follow the steps given to us. We focus on doing the task correctly rather than understanding why we're doing it. We judge our success by how well we can follow these steps and get the desired result.

Learning Scrum: A Challenging Start: For beginners, Scrum might seem tough because there's a lot to learn. Also, adapting to new ways can stir up a lot of emotions – don't underestimate how this can affect the learning process.

Traditional Way of Learning Scrum: Often, teams and organizations face big hurdles when they start using Scrum in the traditional way. Here, Scrum is both the tool for change and the change itself. Despite Scrum's basic principles, teams can feel overwhelmed learning new methods. Changing habits and ways of working requires time and effort. It's common for these new methods to feel harder and less effective at first, as everyone is still learning. This period can also have a strong emotional and psychological impact, which shouldn’t be overlooked.

The role and Influence of emotions

Emotions in Team Members: When new methods like Scrum are introduced, team members might feel a range of emotions. Some might feel upset, thinking that this new way of working suggests their previous methods were not good enough. Others might worry about changes to their roles or job titles. Think about how you feel on your first day at a new job or school year – a mix of excitement, nervousness, doubt, and other emotions. That's similar to what team members might experience during such changes.

Finding the Right Balance: It's essential to balance how much new information is introduced and the speed of introducing it. If you bring in too much too quickly, it can overwhelm the team. But if you go too slowly, people might see the process as a waste of time. This balance also depends on the specific situation of the team, department, or organization. Scrumban has proven to be an effective approach in these scenarios, helping teams adopt Agile practices and Scrum at a manageable pace.

Adjusting to New Roles and Responsibilities: With these changes, people often have to leave behind their old roles and the identities tied to them. They need to interact differently and take on new responsibilities. Newcomers to Scrum usually focus more on the specific roles and activities rather than understanding their deeper purpose. This is why the journey towards becoming agile can have many unexpected challenges and changes.

Step 1: Setting the Stage for Change

  1. Organizational Context: Teams and organizations opting for Scrum, Lean, or Agile are embarking on a transformative journey. This shift often moves from a structure where a few individuals (like project managers) bear the responsibility for success or failure, to a more collective ownership model. The first crucial step for a coach or Scrum master is to clarify this shift in two dimensions.

    a. The Organizational Dimension: Understand and articulate the organization's challenges and reasons for change. This helps in forming a common business goal that unites everyone’s efforts.

    b. The Team Dimension: Identify specific issues that the team will directly address. Recognizing these local challenges is key to overcoming potential emotional hurdles and fostering engagement.

  2. Guiding the Team with New Concepts:

    a. Understanding Current Workflows: Start by helping the team comprehend their current working methods.

    b. Introducing Systems Thinking: Encourage the team to adopt a systems thinking approach to better understand their work processes.

    c. Visualizing Workflow: Teach them basic methods to visually represent their workflow.

    d. Adopting a ‘Pull’ Approach: Shift the team towards pulling work rather than having work pushed onto them.

    e. Daily Standup Meetings: Use these meetings to review the workflow visually and collaboratively address new findings.

    Note: This phase doesn’t require learning core Scrum concepts like product backlogs or sprints.

Step 2: Gradual Introduction of Scrum Elements

  1. Enhancing the Work Environment: Start by improving the physical workspace for the team.

  2. Implementing the Product Backlog: Introduce this key Scrum element to organize and prioritize work.

  3. Defining ‘Done’: Establish a clear understanding of what completed work looks like.

  4. Focusing on Value with User Stories: Shift the team’s focus towards delivering value through user stories.

  5. Starting Iterations and Related Events: Begin adopting iterative processes and associated activities.

    Note: The true effectiveness of Scrum or Scrumban emerges when end-users are integrated into this process. With iterations, the role of the product owner and concepts like value, risk, and prioritization become crucial.

Step 3: Developing Maturity

  1. Incorporating Scrum Practices as Solutions: As teams start seeing Scrum practices as answers to their challenges, they naturally assimilate all essential elements of Scrum into their workflows within a few months.

  2. Building a Strong Foundation: This gradual approach helps teams deeply understand the purpose and functioning of each Scrum component.

  3. Path to Further Growth: With these basics in place, the team and organization can explore various avenues to attain higher levels of maturity, continuing to leverage the Scrumban framework as a driving force for this ongoing development.


Let's summarize the key points from our discussion about the SHU-HA-RI concept and its application in adopting Scrum and Scrumban frameworks:

  1. SHU-HA-RI Concept in Learning Scrum:

    • Beginning Stage (Shu): This stage involves following Scrum steps without fully understanding the underlying reasons. Success is measured by how well these steps are executed.
    • Learning Scrum Challenges: Beginners often find Scrum overwhelming due to the sheer volume of new information and the emotional adjustments required during this learning phase.
  2. Adopting Scrum - Traditional Approach Challenges:

    • Teams and organizations often struggle when adopting Scrum traditionally, as it represents both the method and the change itself.
    • This period is characterized by a steep learning curve, emotional and psychological impacts, and the difficulty of shifting from old habits to new practices.
  3. The Role and Influence of Emotions:

    • Emotional responses play a significant role during the adoption of Scrum. Team members may feel upset or anxious about changes to their roles or perceived criticism of past practices.
    • Managing these emotions is key to a smooth transition to new working methods.
  4. Structured Steps for Implementing Scrum/Scrumban:

    • Step 1 - Provide Context:
      • Addressing both organizational and team-level contexts is crucial.
      • Introduce new objectives and concepts at a manageable pace, focusing on systems thinking, visualizing workflows, and adopting a ‘pull’ work approach.
    • Step 2 - Introduce Scrum Elements:
      • Gradually introduce Scrum elements like the Product Backlog, definition of Done, and User Stories.
      • Emphasize the involvement of end users and the product owner as the team progresses.
    • Step 3 - Maturing:
      • By using Scrum practices to address challenges, teams naturally integrate Scrum elements into their workflow.
      • This approach builds a strong foundation for continuous development and maturity within the framework, with Scrumban serving as a key facilitator for this growth.

In essence, this journey from SHU-HA-RI through adopting Scrum and Scrumban highlights the importance of a phased learning approach, addressing emotional and organizational dynamics, and gradually integrating new practices for effective and sustainable change.