Touch

10 views
Skip to first unread message

Michael de la Maza

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 7:04:21 AM1/4/10
to Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work.
[A version of the note below was originally posted on the Scrum
Collective. Peter Hundermark CSC, CST suggested that I post it here.]

Humans love to touch and to be touched.

Parents hold their children to comfort them. We hug people who are in
pain.

In prison, one of the greatest punishments that is to place a prisoner
in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement does not involve any
direct physical deprivation. The prisoner receives the same amount of
food, sleep, and exercise. But he does not have human contact for
almost the entire day. Studies show that this loss of touch has
debilitating psychological effects which, in approximately one third
of all cases, persist well after solitary confinement has ended and
the prisoner has rejoined the general population.

In typical corporate environments, touch is verboten. My sense is
that some of the unproductive behavior that people exhibit at work is
due to being in solitary confinement for the entire workday. In this
five minute video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PemCDigV680) I
expand slightly on the above and show raw footage (!) of a ten minute
touch exercise that I did with the Boston Chapter of the International
Institute of Business Analysis on November 12, 2009.

Prior to working through the touch exercise, I ask the participants to
take a mental snapshot of their emotional state. After going through
the ten minute exercise, approximately 80% of the participants report
an increase in happiness, energy, and well being. I know of no non-
touch exercise which has similar effects.

What does a high touch Scrum team do? A high touch Scrum team does
many things to incorporate touch into its daily practice. High touch
Scrum teams:
1. Hold hands during the Daily Scrum.
2. Give each other standing backrubs at the start of the Sprint
planning meeting.
3. Hug each other at the end of the retrospective.

As agilists one of our goals is to create environments in which trust,
respect, communication, care, and love are in abundance. Touch is one
of the most powerful ways to create such environments.

Other resources:
- Professor Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley discusses the biology of
touch in this two minute video:
http://bigthink.com/dacherkeltner/dacher-keltner-discusses-the-importance-of-physical-contact
- Hug video (50+ million views): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4
- Dance video (25 million views): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY

Ilja Preuß

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 7:21:58 AM1/4/10
to scruma...@googlegroups.com
Interesting. Have you actually experienced a "high touch scrum team"?
I would like to hear more about that experience.

Curious, Ilja

2010/1/4 Michael de la Maza <michael....@gmail.com>:

> --
>
> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work." group.
> To post to this group, send email to scruma...@googlegroups.com.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to scrumallianc...@googlegroups.com.
> For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/scrumalliance?hl=en.
>
>
>

Sabine Canditt

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 11:19:08 AM1/4/10
to Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work.
Interesting, yes, but it gives me the shivers. Maybe this is a matter
of cultural difference (I am German).

I completely agree that Scrum is about respect and trust, but NOT
about love. I respect and trust my team mates but I don't love them. I
don't have to. I don't want to touch them (at least not
everybody ;-)). They are not my babies and not necessarily my friends.

Some people sweat, smell, don't look very attractive. This touch
exercise would make them outsiders even more than they are already.
This might be an impediment but in my opinion far beyond the scope of
a Scrum team to deal with. I think that respect and trust is very well
possible (or even better) without being too close.

I imagine that a lot of people won't admit that if you ask them
directly.

Regards
Sabine

On 4 Jan., 13:21, Ilja Preuß <iljapre...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> Interesting. Have you actually experienced a "high touch scrum team"?
> I would like to hear more about that experience.
>
> Curious, Ilja
>

> 2010/1/4 Michael de la Maza <michael.delam...@gmail.com>:

> >http://bigthink.com/dacherkeltner/dacher-keltner-discusses-the-import...


> > - Hug video (50+ million views):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4
> > - Dance video (25 million views):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY
>
> > --
>
> > You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work." group.
> > To post to this group, send email to scruma...@googlegroups.com.
> > To unsubscribe from this group, send email to scrumallianc...@googlegroups.com.

> > For more options, visit this group athttp://groups.google.com/group/scrumalliance?hl=en.- Zitierten Text ausblenden -
>
> - Zitierten Text anzeigen -

Andy Brandt

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 11:50:53 AM1/4/10
to Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work.
Hi Michael!

Maybe it is a cultural thing (I'm Polish) but around here normal
people get hugs and other forms of physical affection from their
families and loved ones. Work is not a place of love, team is not your
family and shouldn't be confused with it. If anyone would start touch
exercises as you suggest in my company I'd be first to send them to
talk to a psychologist about their emotional problems and unmet
needs.

On a wider plane your post is what I'm really afraid can happen to
Scrum & Scrum Alliance - going down the path of diffusing Scrum &
agile into some vague bag of psychological tricks just like the
utterly stupid wave exercise that ended the Gathering in Munich.
Beware of that, guys. There are better people at this - and it has
nothing to do with delivering good software.

Best regards,
Andy

On Jan 4, 1:04 pm, Michael de la Maza <michael.delam...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> touch in this two minute video:http://bigthink.com/dacherkeltner/dacher-keltner-discusses-the-import...

Tobias

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 12:45:18 PM1/4/10
to Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work.
Hi Michael,

I've been thinking about this idea since you first floated it a few
weeks back on the Scrum Collective list. It makes me uncomfortable,
and I wasn't sure why. But I think it is simply this. It is phony.

I am a very physical person, and will spontaneously hug people I feel
close with, or have an affinity with, yes, even in a work situation.
But that comes from the heart, not from some exercise that tells me
"hugging is good".

I have to side with Sabine and Andy here and say that I think this is
artificial and cannot lead to long-term improvement in relationships.
It reminds me of those "trust" team-building days that were popular in
the 80's and 90's, where people would climb ropes and fall over and be
caught and all that other nonsense. Good fun to do, but it build a
temporary sense of camaraderie that was not sustainable.

I say don't force this. Help a team build a trustful relationship and
if that extends to physical affection then that's fine -- support it,
for sure, but don't push it on people. Honestly, if I were in a team
that was told to hold hands during a stand-up meeting I'd balk. I had
a hard enough time "talking like a pirate" in a simulated stand-up
meeting at an Agile2008 seminar. All this stuff is fake. Let people
just be who they are, and seek their own intimacy levels in their own
time. As a facilitator you can only model behavior, not enforce it ,
and you should certainly not inflict it.

Tobias

Michael de la Maza

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 8:52:05 PM1/4/10
to Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work.
Ilja,

I have not experienced this on a Scrum team. I have experienced it in
training.

Michael

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages