Hi there! I’m David Jones, the Document and Knowledge Manager at Lokulus. I work closely with the engineering team to deliver top quality products quickly and efficiently.

This is how we do it.

We have a set of employee values at Lokulus - one of them is “Teamwork makes the Dream Work”, and in engineering, we work in small ‘sprint’ teams, so this is particularly apt. Using the Scrum Framework, our work style is very agile, relying on cross-functional teams to deliver products and services in short cycles (normally 2-weeks). This enables fast feedback, continuous improvement, rapid adaptation to change and accelerated delivery. It means we can respond quickly to the changing needs of our customers and the business.

Everything to do with Scrum is about the team.

At its core, are 5 key values:

  • Courage
  • Focus
  • Commitment
  • Respect
  • Openness

Now, these values seem somewhat obvious, and we will certainly show all of these in many day-to-day situations, but do we stick to them when it really matters? In practice, standing up in front of your team and telling them something isn’t working and it needs to change takes courage. It isn’t easy. It’s not easy to be open and tell them you are struggling and need help, also showing respect for the skills of your teammates too. It’s not easy to commit to a two-week sprint that you know is going to challenge you mentally, where you are required to do your optimum best and keep focus for days at a time.

Development in Scrum is about supporting your teammates by sticking to the values to get the job done and facing up to challenges on the way.

When I am not working, over the past few years, I have caught the Tough Mudder™ bug! I have learnt a lot about myself in the process and realised many of the values in Tough Mudder™ are the same as Scrum.

For those of you who may not know, Tough Mudder™ is an un-timed, team-oriented 10 to 12-mile (18-20 km) obstacle course designed to test physical strength and mental grit. It puts camaraderie over finisher rankings, and is not a race, but a team challenge.

On top of the world and still smiling (even when covered in mud!)

The key word here is Team. Tough Mudder™ is just like Scrum; it is about collective input and working together in order to achieve a common goal. In both, everyone relies on each other for ultimate success. In neither, can you succeed without your teammates.

The obstacles in Tough Mudder™ are big, muddy and slippery and some might say dangerous. You might need a leg up, to give a leg up, pulling out of a ditch or just encouragement. One thing is for sure; you won’t get around without help. The same applies to Scrum. The sprint can only be completed by the whole Scrum group helping each other.

Probably the most famous obstacle in the obstacle course is called Everest. At the end of the course, you are exhausted and have to run up a half-pipe. Alone, it would be so daunting, but with this crucial final step, you have friends or strangers calling you up, giving you the courage and determination to hold out a hand and help you over the high edge.

Everest - challenging each individual and team to the very end

Another is called Electroshock Therapy where you get zapped with 10,000 volts:

Teams face the challenge together 

And then there is Arctic enema – a skip of ice and water you slide into.

On all but the hottest days this isn’t very pleasant!

Much like our sprints at Lokulus, Tough Mudder™ is challenging, but it’s also fun and fulfilling achieving as a team. You must commit to training and focus. You need courage to take part and courage to face your fears. You will face challenges you didn’t know were there, and obstacles you would not anticipate – all there waiting as tests where you can prove your commitment to the end goal. As you stand 20ft above a muddy pool of water contemplating a jump, being open with your teammates about your Acrophobia (fear of heights) is much like putting your hand up during a Scrum announcing any concerns or worries you have of what is to come.

The parallels are just as real in practice - when you start working on a task, If you’re not comfortable doing it let the team know, don’t waste time struggling. In Scrum it isn’t just getting your work across the line that is important, it is getting all the team’s work across the line. Whatever issue arises, we face it together, because we’re in it together, and pass the finish line as a group. In Scrum, just like Tough Mudder™, if one member of your team is struggling you go and help them. Everything you do requires commitment and focus to get the job done.

Tough Mudder™ has a pledge said on bended knee before taking part:-

  • I understand that tough mudder is not a race, but a challenge.
  • I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
  • I do not whine – kids whine.
  • I help my fellow mudders complete the course.
  • I overcome all fears.

With a few changes I think we can make this apply to Scrum too.

  • I understand a Sprint is a challenge.
  • I put teamwork and camaraderie above all else.
  • I do not whine – kids whine.
  • I help my fellow team members complete the sprint.
  • I overcome all fears.

Now, i’m not saying that as Scrum teams we need to kneel before every sprint and recite a pledge here, but I do think that we should take note of its meaning as it encompasses the 5 core values.

At Lokulus, our teams are great proponents of all our company values as well as Scrum values. They work hard to deliver great products and they do “make the dream work”.

I’ve been at Lokulus for near 11 years now, but strangely I haven’t managed to tempt any of my Scrum teammates to do a Tough Mudder™!

I’ll keep trying, because if they did, I would know they had the right values to get themselves, and me, round the course.

Post-event images from https://toughmudder.co.uk