Blog Post: What Seven Years Of Marriage Has Taught Me About Collaboration.

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Most of you fall somewhere on the spectrum of marriage. Seven years of marriage may seem like a very short time in light of your time in the saddle, or an eternity that seems too far away. I am humbled and grateful for what Karyn and I have learned through this process and also what we hope to accomplish going forward.

I am proud to say that we ran the getaway weekend just like any other sprint. We set some great goals, had mini-stand ups before every outing and a small retrospective on the drive home. For the record, yes my wife rolled her eyes whenever I mentioned any of this.

The point of the exercise was not to show that I can scrum just about anything in my life (although I know it’s true). It was merely to show the critical path for any true collaboration, regardless of the setting or people involved: communication, expectations and transparency.

We couldn’t have done any of this without a true desire to talk. When you show your spouse you not only have a desire to talk to them, but do so politely and respectfully, it creates an atmosphere where everyone wants to do the same.

There were many days in my marriage when I did not feel safe to share. There was some distrust on both sides, and we for sure didn’t speak to each other respectfully. Now that we are past those days, I can see just how important it is to create an atmosphere for great verbal communication for my teams at home and work.

Marriage counselors will be the first to tell you that unmet expectations can be one of the most damaging things to a union. How many times have you found yourself in a hole with your spouse because you didn’t quite understand just exactly what was expected of you? Same goes for your team.

If you make a point to call out the things everyone expects to happen, or recognize when new unmet expectations arise, it can only help in creating a safe environment for everyone.

The hardest ceremony was the retrospective, which can be the case for many teams. Not only do you have to be willing to hear from others how you let them down (regardless of how small the event was), but you need to be willing to politely do the same for them. This doesn’t happen without the previous two pillars being set up, because without proper communication and expectation setting this is a pointless exercise.

Interestingly enough, this is the most important part of marriage. Even though you can’t have true transparency without the ability to talk and share in love, it’s all for not if the communication stops there. You must give your marriage a purpose beyond just making him or her happy, and the same applies to your team.

Simple enough, right?

Let’s say you get all these things down. You must be asking yourself what comes next for your team or marriage. Of course, depending on how long your team has been together and your relative maturity, there is a possibility of accomplishing these objectives in a short period of time. My response would be to check how deep of a level of maturity you are achieving.

Short-term, or surface, collaboration is very possible. It’s not the kind of setting for real innovation, though. This can only occur when leaders stand up and call out for sustained patterns of progress together. Whether you are a husband, wife, scrum master, manager, or team member, you have to have that desire or you will be right back to your old and unproductive ways.

I’m thankful I have a partner at home who brings out the best in me, and a team at Bottle Rocket that does the same.

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