Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to be an effective Scrum Master by understanding the Ego states

We are our behaviours, thinking and experiences. Wherever we go, we carry all our emotions and personality with us.  A question, do  you agree that the way we speak, deal with others are influenced by our past ?

imageSarah Taraporewalla of Thoughtworks talked about different personality types, their impact on areas like communication and relationship with our colleagues at work.  She presented this topic during Agile Australia 2012 event, a few weeks ago.

She also explained some of the topics like Iceberg principle, TA and positions using her own example as Scrum Master and Agile coach. 


Transactional Analysis(TA) describes how people are structured psychologically. It uses what is perhaps its best known model, the ego-state (Parent-Adult-Child) model, to do this. 

imageEric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis, believed that each of us have 3 ego states (our Parent, Adult and Child). This is also called PAC model.

The Parent ego state is comprised of the behaviours, thoughts and feelings copied from our parents, or other parental figures.  The person with the Parent ego state will spend most of the time giving guidelines.  

'Adult' describes our ability to think and determine action for ourselves based upon the 'here and now'. 

This is the ego state in which individuals behave, feel and think similarly to how they did as a child. Person with Child ego is very emotional.  Could cry or get angry easily.  People storming out of the meetings, crying when you give a feedback are good examples of a person with Child ego state.

By being in Adult ego state, one could control both the parent and child ego state people. 
If you are a Scrum Master or a coach, you could observe the conversations between people, and understand their state.  Using the PAC model effectively, one could use appropriate communication mechanism to not only get the work done but also to maintain relationships.

During one of the feedback meetings, the employee I was chatting with started crying. I understood that, she is in the “Child” ego state. As stated earlier, one needs to be in Adult state to manage Child and Parent egos. Being in Adult ego implies, I need to be non threating (Physical posture), and should be in state of enquiry.

Sarah also recommended following books to learn more about Psychology


Understanding PAC model
Transactional Analysis

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