What if you could become more effective and more fulfilled in your work at the same time? Turns out it’s far from impossible. 

On the podcast today, I’m sharing a conversation I had with JJ Sutherland, CEO of Scrum, Inc.

JJ’s father, Jeff, came up with the Scrum framework in the early 90’s, which helps teams work together and encourages teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem, and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve. It’s most frequently used by software development teams, its principles and lessons can be applied to virtually any team.

In fact, we have used a variation of the Scrum framework on our team, but we have started to change the way we run our business based on this conversation with JJ Sutherland.

In today’s conversation with JJ Sutherland, CEO of Scrum, Inc., you’ll hear how changing the way you view your work will increase your happiness AND enable you to do twice the work in half the time.

JJ Sutherland 0:04
And then about 25%, 30% of the people are doing things that not only anyone wants, but no one knows about, and are actually against the goals of the organization.

Introduction 0:20
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Joshua Rivers 00:44
What if you can become more effective and more fulfilled in your work at the same time? Turns out, it's far from impossible.

JJ Sutherland 00:54
Happy teams. Not only are you a better person, if you have happy teams in your organization, but they do more stuff higher quality than our site come to work.

Joshua Rivers 01:04
That's JJ Sutherland, CEO of Scrum Incorporated. JJ's father, Jeff, came up with a Scrum framework back in the early 90s. Now the Scrum framework helps teams work together and encourages teams to learn through experiences, how some self organized while working on a problem, and it helps them reflect on the wins and losses to continuously improve. It's most frequently used by software development teams, but its principles and lessons can be applied to virtually any team. In fact, we've used a variation of the Scrum framework on our team. But we've started to change the way that we run our business based on this conversation that Scott had with JJ. Now in this conversation, you're gonna hear how changing the way you view your work will increase your happiness and enable you to do twice the work and half the time.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:56
Tell me a little bit about where your career began. Long before Scrum, long before anything else, tell me a bit about where your career started out.

JJ Sutherland 02:05
So my career began during college when I got a job at WB Warn, which is the public radio station in Boston. And I was there for a while, I did a talk show there. I was a producer, not on air, and a bunch of other things covered a couple elections. And then I left there and went to WNYC in New York to produce a program called on the media. And I was there for a couple years. And then NPR recruited me to come down and launch some new shows in DC, where there appears headquartered. And then 9/11 happened. So they wanted to build a secondary headquarters in California. So I went to California and set that up. And then the Iraq war happened. You know, I had pretty good job in Santa Monica. But I decided that, as a journalist, that's what I wanted to do is cover that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:58
What made you decide that that was what you wanted to do as a journalist? I'm curious.

JJ Sutherland 03:03
A couple of reasons. One, it's sort of, it was always been my dream to be war correspondent, you know, that certainly I'm sort of one of the things that... since I was a kid. You know, the glamour, which I discovered is not there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:19
Now, I'm super curious about when you were a kid, what were some of the events that led you down the path of saying...?

JJ Sutherland 03:25
Oh, my uncle was a journalist in public radio. And then, you know, The Year of Living Dangerously, this movie with, I think it's Richard Gere, about coverage of the Indonesian revolution, takeover by the military, whatever you want to call it. And it was just romantic, and there's a love story. And you know, getting the story out... I don't know why, but I've always been attracted to journalism. And journalism and crisis zones is also one of the highest forms of the craft. Because it's hard to do. And I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. It's sort of, why I left Boston for New York, is I was the player in Boston. And I decided, "you know what, I don't want to be a player in Boston. I want to be a player in New York City." And that's going to give me this competition that I want, because that's where the competition is. Then NPR, and then it was, you know, did a bunch of stuff in NPR. And then it was like, I wanna go that. So in 2004, I started to go to Iraq for about six months a year or so, as a co-Baghdad bureau of chief until 2011 when I left NPR. So I spent about six months a year in Iraq and six months a year back home, and that covered Iraq, the Arab Spring, Hezbollah-Israeli conflict in 2006, 2006 I guess. And then there was the London bombings in 2007. Then Fukushima in 2011. And Libya, also in 2011, covered all of those.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:48
So I heard you say that it was not like the movie with Richard Gere in many ways. What were some of the biggest differences between what you perceived it would be and what it actually is?

JJ Sutherland 05:00
I have this sort of quick that I use. There's when people ask me what war is like, and it's incredibly scary and terrifyingly loud. It is you're... I was afraid all the time, which I think was, you know, understanding, you're in the midst of a conflict. And this conflict, unlike war is in the past, the journalists are targets of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. And so that was scary. Now people get kidnapped, pulled out their houses, have their heads chopped off, or then if you're with the American military, you're driving down the road. This guy driving down this road from ours and going to Taji, is from Baghdad and Taji of this highway. Oh yeah, as we had nine ETS last night, there probably used them all up. Well, okay. Yeah. You know, getting shot at. No, it's yeah... it's terrifying, and it is also incredibly boring, because you're waiting a lot of the time for stuff to happen. So, and when stuff does, it's fast. And so and it was in the conditions in Iraq, you know, we're living in a house with armed guards behind windows with sandbags. Like every time we went out, we had to have a plan for how we're going to do it, you know, to avoid capture. So, and it was incredibly depressing, people are dying, a lot of them for no reason. And I kept on doing it, because I wanted the American people to know what was going on in there. And it was pretty horrific. And I felt an obligation to the American people to let them know.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:35
I can't find the quite right words. First of all, it's horrific, in many senses of the word. The boring, the horrifying, the terrifying. All of those things sound very, very horrific, I suppose is the right word. However, it's only interesting that word, obligation. I found myself at many points in time during my career, during some of the hardest areas and I don't want to compare those to war in any way, whatsoever, because I think even my hardest areas still are vastly different than war. However...

JJ Sutherland 07:12
Things are still hard.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:13
Things are sure... things are still hard. And I think in different ways for different people, certainly. But that obligation word is really, really interesting to me, just because I think that sometimes that is the obligation and often the sense of, maybe purpose or other things that can come from it. What was it about that obligation that kept you in that area for so long? When I say area, I'm talking about continuing to cover.

JJ Sutherland 07:38
Journalists are one of the only professions mentioned in the Constitution, by freedom of the press. And as such, we have both incredible freedom and able to broadcast to millions of people, but from my point of view that comes with an obligation to the Republic. That I believe the United States is served by an independent free journalism. I think that that is really important for our republic. And I feel that... and I felt then that the Bush Administration had decided to go to war and false pretenses. They... the behavior and how the US forces were there, not all of them certainly, not good friends, but you know, horrible things happen, they do in war. I mean, they just do. And I felt that it wasn't my place to say it was bad, or it was horrible. That's it. I didn't never said that then. What was my place to say is what I had to say was, this is what happened today. Just that. Just the facts. This is what happened today. Here's the impact it had on people's lives. And Americans are involved. Al-Qaeda is involved. Iran is involved. Shia Militias are involved. There's no good guys here. So I mean, yeah, American forces, on the whole were good people, but sometimes they weren't.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:54
So then what I'm very curious about is, what caused you to transition away from that? Because if we fast forward many years later, like that is not at all what you're doing at this point.

JJ Sutherland 09:06
Not even close.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:07
However, what took place between there and here?

JJ Sutherland 09:10
So two things. This was 2009, my editor at the time, I was covering, I was back in the States, I was covering the Pentagon. My editor said, you know, we've done all the stories about the strategy and the troops and about the Rockies. But there were like, 100 attacks a day in Baghdad alone, like 2006, 2007. And they're like, and he said, "what happens to all this stuff? What happens to all the blown up Humvees?" I said, "I don't know. We will find out." And they end up at a Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas. Have you been here in East Texas?

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:39
I have.

JJ Sutherland 09:40
It wasn't East Texas.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:41
And not. Now much as far as I can tell.

JJ Sutherland 09:44
A whole lot of that project.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:46
Passing through.

JJ Sutherland 09:47
But there is this Army Depot and it's got a few thousand people and there's only one person in uniform just the colonel in charge, everyone else's civilian unionized workforce, you know, classic. And when the war kicked off in 2003, they could fix three Humvees a week. And the Pentagon, obviously 100 times a day, three Humvees a week ain't gonna cut it. So the Pentagon was actually going to shut it down, outsource it to Oshkosh. And the colonel in charge didn't want that to happen. I mean, this is thousands of jobs and places where there aren't a lot of jobs. So he went to Ford, and GM and said, "well, how do you do it?" And they introduced to him to what's called "a lean production line", which you, if you've never seen one, Google it. They're amazing. All comes originally out of the Toyota Production System. It's like the parts show up just in time, just when the workers need it. They're constantly looking for how do they make the line go faster. They're constantly trying to improve. And over a couple of years, they went from three a week to more than 40 a day.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:43

JJ Sutherland 10:44
And they didn't change any of the people. All they changed was how they were working. That was pretty amazing. I went to the hotel that night and I called my dad just a little to invented Scrum back in '94, '93 and said, "you know this in total process improvement thing you've been going on about for decades? Maybe you're onto something, maybe. And so I went back to Iraq, and I didn't...

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:07
Hold on. I wanna know what that conversation was like.

JJ Sutherland 11:11
My father is pretty...

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:13
Were your dad's been talking about this stuff? Very excited for, I'm guessing...

JJ Sutherland 11:17
He was much more like... yeah, he's one of the more phlegmatic people I know. Of course, he did. Now you finally realized. So when I took a Scrum master course from him, and then I went back to Baghdad and did a few things that, you know, sort of Scrum things, I could put up a Scrum board. So we knew where everything was, we had a daily stand up, you know, those kind of things, but I didn't really do all of Scrum. That wasn't until 2011 when the Arab Spring kicked off in January of that year. And when the Arab Spring kicked off, I think it was a Friday, and my job then, because I wasn't at the Baghdad Bureau was, it's something, you know, exploded or went crazy and the world was to grab a go back and go. And again, I was being a producer, not I was not being corresponded. I wasn't filling that role during the Arab Spring. It was a Friday, and so they flew in the drusen correspondent to Cairo to help the Cairo correspondent cover it, but we weren't sure how big it was going to get. So we didn't send anybody else right away. And this might surprise you, but broadcast correspondents have egos and they don't play well together sometimes. So they spent the weekend fighting, and they're blowing deadlines and not getting stuff done. And so they called me on Sunday, and they said, "hey, we're gonna fly you to Cairo. Here's the situation, fix that situation. And we're sending in two or three more correspondence. So make sure everyone works together well." I got there and, as the senior producer in charge on the ground, I have no power. No one reported to me. My job is just to make stuff happen. You can make it easy. So I was sitting in baggage claim in Cairo airport, middle of the night later that a dusted on curfews, I couldn't leave until like a dams like two in the morning. And I was thinking about it, and I said, "the only thing away I think I can do this, is with Scrum." And I can't use any of the words because they will just laugh me out of the room, say some sort of management fad. So all I did is I went to the hotel room that we got looking over career square, and I just took out post-it's, and started putting, what's the most important thing we have to do today? All right, that's a given Trump-era squares, it just go down the list, and then make all the work visible. And it was amazing. I've with a number of days, this fractious group of individuals become a team and they're working together as a team. And so that really blew my mind. You know, we had... we were doing 12 hour sprints because we had a morning show, an evening show. And there's something called the Sprint Retrospective, which in Scrum is how is where the continuous improvement comes in. And so we do it twice a day, like hey, what went well? What, you know, what didn't go well? What's, you know, getting in our way and slowing us down? It can be anything like oh, you know, the satellite Tony's a better head or, one of the correspondents Corey Flintoff got picked up by the secret police, how to get him out of jail. No one teaches you how to do that. It was a learning experience.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:05
They don't teach that in university. So weird.

JJ Sutherland 14:10
We did that. And it was just remarkable experience. And that was that story was a remarkable experience. Another great one to cover. And Libya happened. And Libya was just chaos. There was no institutions because Gaddafi had gotten made sure there was nothing, there was no Dental Association or Law Association. No unions, no. So that there is the only institution was his personal power. And so when he died, and the whole thing fell apart. And you go to places or some guy with a former taxi driver with you know, a rocket launcher and a shoulder and it was just crazy. And I think it was the second time I went there. And so there in Benghazi there was this hotel, and the hotels were all the foreign journalists stayed. And every day around four o'clock, the good citizens of Benghazi would march in front of the hotel, they'd fire off all the weapons, they looted from the military armories. Which, you know, like ones I hadn't even seen, apparently not realizing that what goes up must come down. Like I saw people arguing with grenades over a parking spot at one point. But so they're going around, and they're shooting in the air. And I'm in my hotel room working on a script or something. And the bullet is through the window. And all I was, was annoyed. I wasn't afraid. I was just annoyed because I was trying to get shit done. And a very good friend of mine had said, "JJ, if you're ever not afraid, you've been there too long. Get out." And so that's what I did. It was definitely, you know, I ended up in a... on a UN flight ended up in Malta, where I've never been to before. I noticed I had to walk around for a few days thinking, "Okay, what am I gonna do next with my life? This career is over." And I get back to DC eventually. And I'm talking to my Dad, I'm thinking about writing a book and I go to Sky, Howard Hughes literary agent, and I said, "yeah, I want to read book and I could write this book on war, this book In the Middle East, about Fukushima, or you know, or the idea my dad does a thing called Scrum?" And Howard looked at me and said, "JJ, you want to leave NPR? I said, "yeah, I do." He says, "write the Scrum book." And so it's been the next couple years doing that, the first book. And capturing my father's stories, and how all this came about, and what all of it means was really important to me as well as I because I think that we oftentimes let knowledge like that vanish.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:28
Yeah, that's actually fascinating to me, partially, because I can't tell you the number of people I've been in conversation with, over the last 15 years or so where I've heard them say something to the effect of "man, I would love to spend time and capture my parents or grandparents stories." And you've in very many ways, the unique opportunity to do that, but for an even greater purpose, I would say. First of all, what was just that aspect like of it and why was that so important to you in particular?

JJ Sutherland 17:02
It was odd. It was a gift, I think, to get to know my father as an adult. Now for 25 years, I hadn't really, you know, been around him at all, I was pretty dis... We wanted change but we weren't close at all. And getting him to know him as an adult and working with him in the same company, and writing with him was a real gift. You know, I don't think a lot of people get that to reengage with their parents as an adult with a lot of space in between, until a lot of the dynamics were gone on all of them, of course, but a lot of them. And then working at Scrum, Inc. way back then it was really small. I was remarkable. There was just, you know, this really incredible team of people. And we were trying to, you know, also trying to change the world, because work sucks, and it doesn't have to, I mean, you look at the polls and it's like Gallup's like yeah, you know, 30% engagement United States. So it means like, 30% of people are excited to go to work. That sucks. That's not a great way to live.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:02
13% of people have what Gallup calls great jobs. And that's just in the US only 4% in the world, which are, the definition of a great job doesn't even actually sound that great. So...

JJ Sutherland 18:13
Yeah. And a lot of the reason that is, I think, this is my opinion, is the way we work just like at Red River Army Depot, that we work in ways that get in our way, and we were unable to get things done, and is crippling. I mean, after the book came out in 2014, the first book, once a year so, I'll have somebody come up to me and say, "this book saved my life." And then you know, like, what do you say when someone says that? Like, you're welcome, or there's like an awkward hug or side hug? It's kind of...

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:46
I go for the side hug.

JJ Sutherland 18:48
Yes, side hug. What sort of the real purposes is letting... is setting human potential free from the restrictions that are self imposed, and to point out that, the way we're working in traditional organizations, isn't a law of nature, we made it up, which means we can make something else up to replace it. And the best thing I've stumbled across so far is Scrum. So it's a, it's taking the technology sector completely by storm, you know, all of the, you know, Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Dropbox, they all use Scrum of one sort or another. And the other thing allowed them to do is to move fast and to react to change easily. That is, I think, critical. And I think what has been happening over the last is happening long and last 20 years, but certainly the last 20 years is that the rate of technological change has accelerated so greatly that people can't even perceive the rate of the rate of change. And it's completely upended whole industries, there are, you know, sort of two things you can do when that kind of thing, either you can double down on what you're doing and get beat or you can say, "I want to be able to embrace change and have that kind of change. Be not a bad thing, but be a good thing." That kind of change making my organization better in that rapid change. And because it's changing. So as much as we've learned in the past few months, things can change rapidly, your organization, and you and your team need to figure out how to react as well. I mean, I know in every corporate boardroom in America in January, there are all these, you know, annual plans, lots of PowerPoint slides, they got tossed out the window three months later. And I wonder how many of those people refuse to change their plans, because they like this good plan, they love their plan.

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:37
What you're talking about reminds me of something that, and I can't remember which book I read it in. And actually now that I think about, I'm not totally sure whether you said it or your dad said it or some combination of both. However, it was something to the effect of describing Scrum as a new way to organize human endeavor.

JJ Sutherland 20:54

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:55
And that stood out to me because I think I have a friend that, it's always stuck in my mind since she said this, but she said something to the effect of, "hey, the old way of working has a tendency to go against the human spirit." And that's stuck with me ever since. And I think that what you're talking about, and especially, you know, that statement, a new way to organize human endeavor really fits with that. This, everything that I know, or have ever used that's in relation to Scrum fits really, really well, or at least much, much, much better with how humans function well, and even where we get, you know, meaning and purpose. And a number of other things along those lines too, it jives well for those pieces too. So really, really like that new way to organize human endeavor. But I'm curious, coming from the background that you did, and then moving into the Scrum organization, what were some of the ways, I guess I should say that, that you looked at this differently, then what it was originally created for?

JJ Sutherland 22:01
So we came out of the software business. Five, last time I coded software was probably 1990. And it was more like a 'Hello World' kind of thing. And so I looked at this and I was like, you know, I use this in the Arab Spring, it's seems you know, I've used it in writing a book, I wrote a book with it. And so what I've been doing over the past eight or nine years, has been going into new places and saying, "this is not a technology framework. It's a universal framework that anyone can use to do anything." And boy, do we need people to do stuff these days. And the kind of work that we do is mostly mental, and it's sort of imaginary, in certain sense. A lot of the people we were... we just make things up, right. That's what I do for a living. I kept on saying, "well, let's see, you know, oh someone used it to build a fighter plane in Sweden. Let's go talk to them. Oh, you know, someone gonna call me up from one of the private space companies are building rockets. Let's go check that out." Or banks, or airlines, or oil and gas and energy and automotive and all sorts of places and the military, all sorts of places. And what I think it does is it gets into as you were saying, how people are, because it's not like sui generis, it's way working. It's actually been invented time and time again. And but we just forget, like I was doing some research the other day into the Apollo program behind how that worked. I was looking at the, they're these oral histories on the NASA site. And this guy named George Mueller was the head of manned spaceflight in the 1960s. And as soon as he got the job in early 60s, he cut his management team from 15 to 4. And then he empowered all the teams at the different NASA centers, I think four of them across the country. He had them make the decision that... he made the decisions that he needed to make and that coordinated like 300,000 people and 20,000 companies something absurdly large and they put someone on the moon and brought them back. And when he was doing that, the way he was working... and the orchestra is people are going, it's reckless, you know, there's never could work. It's crazy. We're not following the rules, you know, these time tested ways of working. This is just crazy. And so George retires, and then seven days after, you know, the lunar program, and everything goes back to the way it was before, because all the silos came back. And I think that's because, again, this is my theory, my working theory right now, the rules might back. And so you actually have to change the system and change what people are incented to do, and how they're promoted and how they're given raises and what they're valued for. And to do that, you fundamentally have to change the ruleset. Otherwise, if you have, you know, the same rules, but you're just operating, you have a charismatic, brilliant leader, you know, operating in this crazy way. And as long as that person is there, they can pull it off, but as soon as that person leaves, it disappeared.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:00
System reverts.

JJ Sutherland 25:01
Yep. So I think what Scrum is, is how do we take all the research on human productivity? You know, what makes humans tick? How do we like to be? All the research and you know, in business and all the study, you know, all of this it's based on decades of research, going back to World War One. And put it together in a framework, that's as lightweight as possible, but at least it's a different rule set. And if we can insert that rule set deeply into organizations, we can fundamentally change them forever.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:28
You know, one thing that I've often wondered too, not necessarily just in relation to Scrum but in relation to how we have a tendency to work as human beings. I think part of it is systemic, like you're talking about, you know, the one person that's doing it differently leaves and the system reverts. One of my favorite things about the ideas behind Scrum is it has continual prioritization built into the process, one of my favorite things. And what I've seen, not just in... not just in Scrum, but in many other areas is if that continual prioritization stops in any way whatsoever, then that's where we have a tendency to implement all kinds of things that are not useful or less valuable. And that's where all those rules and other things that have a tendency to creep in because we feel like, if we make all these rules, or we feel like if we add these other things, it's going to be easier. When really, in reality, the continual prioritization is part of what makes it work. So having the processes or systems or the wherewithal, or the people, you know, continuously prioritizing is as part of what keeps that on track. And if that part disappears, then it seems like we as humans have a tendency to create things that we think are going to be easier but are really not. That's totally half baked thoughts that are just... No, no, that's exactly... it's actually worse than you think. Tell me more.

JJ Sutherland 26:54
So usually in Scrum, Inc., we go into an organization. And there's some good data on this from the Standish group, which as a project research company. Usually about and this is comes from the software industry. So I know this is true, and the software industry had good data on it, but I'm pretty sure it's true everywhere else as well. About 25% of people are making things that the customer is actually value, features that they're going to use. And about 40 some odd percent are working on things that people will rarely or never use. Like, you can write computer code and compile it within Microsoft Word. Why?

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:27
Which is... I'm sure one of their most used features. No, I'm being completely sarcastic.

JJ Sutherland 27:32
Or and then about 25%, 30% of the people are doing things that not only anyone wants, but no one knows about. And are actually against the goals of the organization. We often call it dark work and the one of the things that Scrum does, and so think about that, you know, 75% of the effort of your people is total waste. What's great about that, is just a little bit of a change is dramatic, but one company we were in, that one of the three M divisions we worked in. That's Scrum, Inc., they actually... when we started with that ruthless prioritization at the top with the CEO of this division, and she did, and then we've started rolling out Scrum down. And one of the things that Scrum does is it makes the work visible, that makes what everyone is doing visible. And you can say, is this in alignment with the organizational priorities. And we found this group of teams on three or four teams that had, were working on something for the past two years, or the market windowed past like 18 months, and they didn't know that, the CEO thought they'd stopped. Think about that, you know, 20 people just working on nothing of value. And that happens more than you think it's crazy. It's totally crazy.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:40
It's absurd, and yet it still does happen. I also can tell you the number of people that I have conversations with, that email me to this day that are describing that type of situation and that is part of how they find us at Happen To Your Career and began looking because their role or they're... what they're doing in the organization, they can tell is not valuable. And it's certainly not challenging them in ways that they want to be challenged. And so therefore, they're not having a great time either. And they're lacking and craving something that's much more purposeful and fulfilling. So it is very terrible for the organization itself. But it's even more terrible in some ways for the people who are involved in it, because they can think they know, and they feel like they're wasting their time in many different ways.

JJ Sutherland 29:33
Yeah, they totally do. And these are very talented people, often and again, it's not bad people, it's bad systems. Do you know the fundamental attribution error?

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:44

JJ Sutherland 29:45
Either, which is one of my favorite things where, you know, we talk about ourselves, it's, you know, we say what the forces are that act upon us. We talked about somebody else, we talked about their internal failings, and I think that's what it is. And the thing that people need to change the way they view the world, is that everyone is a prisoner of the forces that act upon them, everyone. And so how do we change what the forces are? And for an individual, I mean, the scrum is really like this big bank, one of the really, really big European banks called me up a couple years ago. And I said, "why are you calling me? You have all the money, like all the money, like trillions of dollars." And they said, "because no one wants to work for us" because centuries old banks, and the way we work, all the talent wants to go elsewhere. They want to go to these startups. Because it's more fun.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:31

JJ Sutherland 30:33
And if, you know, the war for talent is very real. And especially if you're doing something technical, you got to keep those people happy. It's the walk out the door.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:42
Yeah, we see a lot of evidence that we're kind of in a unique position because we're really fortunate to have all the folks that are listening to this right now, they are... what I would say is some of the world's top talent and many times I get emails and then we get to, my team and I, get on conversations with people and get the opportunity to learn what is not working, why they're considering leaving. And even though in many ways they have what nearly everybody else would call, point from the outside looking in and say, "you know, these really great jobs are amazing opportunities." And yet they're still considering leaving or have even overstayed longer than they felt that they should for a variety of different reasons. But that said, that war on talent that you're talking about, or that keeping people happy, I think has layers to it. And there's a surface level stuff, like we were mentioning as it relates to doing work, where our human tendency is to point to, "hey, how do we get a rule to make this more simplified? Or, you know, how do we make the compensation better? How do we focus on it?" And we have a tendency to focus on the wrong thing. So here's where I'm going with my question. My question to you is, as I was reading through some of the books, it occurred to me, that there's got to be a profound impact on working differently as it relates to keeping talent too. And I'm curious, what are some of the observations that you've seen there? Because I don't think that's probably the reason most organizations are coming to you. I'm guessing they're more interested in many different ways, although please correct me if I'm wrong, but, you know, bottom line related productivity related to number of others, how can we... but what are some of the impacts that you see? I'm just super curious.

JJ Sutherland 32:34
Well, one of the things that we do in Scrum, Inc., we really stress this is that happiness is important because we know this. Happy teams, not only are you a better person, if you have happy teams in your organization, but they do more stuff, higher quality and our site come to work. You know, I'm not really

kind of guy. But happiness is one of the best predictors of quality, of productivity, we all know that's like, you know what? The optimistic sales people are way better than pessimistic sales people. We know like, if you come into work and you're tired, or you're angry, or you're afraid, you literally cannot think about certain things, you can't think because so much of your brain is taken up with that stuff. But if you come in and you're happy for your oyster, you can actually think better. That is one of the things, so we sell it to management by saying, "hey, you're gonna get more stuff" which they do. And we sell it to the people saying, "your lives are gonna be better" which they are. And that combination, because of happiness is really important. And people... go to Google Scholar and Google happiness. And there's like thousands and thousands of papers on this. And they're all saying the same thing. Working with individuals, working with teams, and working with organizations, we want them to be healthy. We want them to be happy. They want them to be great places to work. And one of the places you walk in, you can sort of feel the energy and you know, everything... always popping and feels really good. You're excited to be there. That's what you want in any organization. That's usually the customers that come to Scrum, Inc., but they're looking for that and you know, more stuff twice to work half the time. You know, the title of our first book, and it's really not that hard to do. It's basically stopping doing stupid stuff. You know, it's one of the like, you have to prioritize. Everyone knows we have to prioritize. Everyone says, "Oh, yeah. But then I have 10 top priorities." Which means they don't have priorities, which means that the most junior person in their company is deciding their strategy because they get to pick on what to work on. So you have that. And also people's lives are better. Work doesn't have to suck. And with the sort of unleashing this human potential, that's incredibly rewarding to me, and that's why I'm doing this. And it's out of a sense of we started this conversation, out of a sense of obligation.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:49
Interestingly enough, we've circled all the way back, which is fascinating on many different levels to me, but I think this also leads to another question from what you've seen in your entire journey and what you know about the idea and concepts and learnings behind Scrum today, I'm really curious where people can use some of these concepts and learnings within their own career to not just for their organization, not just for we're doing a different kind of work, although we certainly have some compelling arguments here that that will help them too. But just thinking about it from a career and personal life type perspective, what do you think are some of the learnings that you can share with somebody who wants to prioritize better or wants to be able to benefit from some of these?

JJ Sutherland 35:39
Right. Well, the first thing you have to do is make your work visible. When our work is all imaginary. So we have to rip it out of the imaginary into the real. So just put it on posters and put on the wall and then you can actually prioritize just by moving post-it's around and then focus on one thing, getting that top one done, totally, completely done, and then move on to the next. It's really simple. People have a hard time doing it. I have a hard time doing it. That's the key. And then also, on a regular cadence, sit down and reflect. How could I... when I was working on all this stuff, as I trying to get this stuff done. Whether it's you know, I'm looking at my Scrum board right now there's a door I have to fix upstairs, I got to write an article about mega projects. It's like all sorts of stuff I have to do, but it's all up there. But every, you know, week, I sit down, and I sit down with my team and sit down myself and say, "How can I make that work better? How can I make it easier? How can I make myself more happy doing this? What small change? Could what experiment could I try to see if it does change?" And as doing that and you'll be very surprised. A little bit of change. You don't have to do this massive life, upheaval thing, but a little bit of change all the time. All of a sudden, you can get some places you never thought you could get to.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:50
Absolutely love it. And I think that that's a great note for us to end on. Because I think that transfers to so many different areas for people that want to learn more. More about Scrum, more about you, more about your organization, where would you recommend that they go? What can they do?

JJ Sutherland 37:08
I just published a book a new book called "The Scrum Field Book." In that book, I go through a lot of patterns and how this actually works and wares and pick case studies and you know how to do it. The first book wrote "Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work And Half The Time" is, you know, it's been a bestseller for a while. And that's the place most people start and if you want to come and visit Scrum,Inc., you can go to and we have tons of stuff on our website, you know, papers and blogs and articles and videos and all sorts of stuff. So you can check that out. And if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, I'm... you know, I love hearing about people's journeys in the agile world. It's JJ Sutherland, CEO of Scrum,Inc. It's not that hard to find me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:46
It pops up right away and a quick Google search. Tried it. Hey, thank you so very much. I really really appreciate you taking the time and making the time and coming and sharing and allowing me to dig into some of your past and your stories too. This has been a ton of fun for me, and I just really appreciate it.

JJ Sutherland 38:05
Well, thank you so much. It was really good time. It was really interesting to talk about all that in connected.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:11
If this is not your first episode of the Happen To Your Career podcast, you probably heard somebody on here that their first step to work that they absolutely love that fits their strengths, and they're excited about was going through our free eight day mini course to figure out what fits you and we've had now well over 30,000 people have that as their beginning step to identifying what they want in their lives and you can do the exact same thing. And if you're interested in that, it has some really amazing questions to get you started in becoming clear on what you want and what you need in your career and it's a great way to kick it off and determine what is most important for you moving forward, you can learn what you're great at so you can stop wasting time in your job and start working in your career. Even identify some of the internal blockages that are keeping you from fulfilling work, and wealth and career success and begin narrowing down what you should be doing for work that's fulfilling to you. All you have to do is go to that's and get started today, enter your email and viola, will send you the very first lesson. Head on over there, or you can text HAPPEN to 44222 that's HAPPEN to 44222.

Ready for Career Happiness?

What Career Fits You?

Finally figure out what you should be doing for work

Join our 8-day “Mini-Course” to figure it out. It’s free!