Scrum Day Bandung 2019: Escaping The Drama Triangle


19 August 2019, a day to remember!

It was the day of Scrum Day Bandung 2019.
Scrum Day Bandung is an event driven by Scrum Master Community. They have the desire to spread agility in working places.

Scrum Day Bandung 2019 was their 3rd event. When I heard about this I was encouraged to share something there.

I was thinking real hard on what can I share. I wanted to share something that can help people to overcome their day to day problem.
Finally I came up with the topic of “Escaping The Drama Triangle”.

I heard about this topic when I was in Scrum Alliance Gathering in London 2018. When I heard that topic, I can relate on the situations I faced in my current organization. That was the reason I wanted to bring the same topic but with the content that is modified based on my own experience.

Resistance, skeptical, persecuting, feel like being the most desperate, tired of helping others, etc etc.
Sounds familiar to you?

I bet you start relating those above with a person’s name, or even to yourself!

Those are what I call “DRAMA”!

In this article we will see what usually caused drama, what can we do about it and what is better than being a drama queen.

Escaping The Drama Triangle


In Scrum Day Bandung, I shared 3 things that usually make people being so “DRAMA“.

People Are Basically Afraid Of Change

Yes… that’s it!
People are basically afraid of change and we – the agilist – are creating change!
So we basically create the fear for them!

And if you’re a Scrum Master, do you aware that one of the stance of a Scrum Master is a Change Agent? Or we can say that …. a fear creator? πŸ˜€ (*kidding)

Hand Model Of The Brain

Are you familiar with the Hand Model Of The Brain by dr. Daniel Siegel?
You can refer to this link to understand more detail:

In short, dr. Siegel explains that our brain consists of several parts, some of them are spinal cord, brain stem, limbic region and cortex.

The spinal cord is the one that controls our heart beat, etc

The brain stem (the reptilian brain) is the one that gives the response whenever we get a thread.
It can be Freeze, Flee, Fight and even Faint.

The limbic (the mammalian brain) is the one that control our emotion, storing old memories, etc

The cortex is the one I call the “smart part of the brain”. The one that decide things.

Our brain is a complex and amazing body part!
When we receive a “danger signal“, our brain will react!
When the response from brain stem combined with the memories we have from the limbic resulting a dangerous situation, our cortex will FLIP!

This is what I call we lost our smart part of the brain. This is when people can’t think rationally.

You see? We create the change, we take part in their cortex flipping condition. In this case, we as coaches need to help them to put back their smart part of the brain.

Later in this article I will share with you some of the tools that can be useful for that.

Kubler-Ross Change Curve

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve is a model consisting of the various levels or stages of emotions which are experienced by a person who is soon going to approach death.

This model was introduced by and is named after Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in a book called β€˜Death and Dying’ in 1969.

The stages included in this model are denial, frustration, depression, experiment, decision and integration.

Although the origin of this model is about the reaction when someone is going to die, we can relate the reactions in the condition when people sense danger or uncertainty. Something that endanger their career, for example.

Basically, when people are in the frustration and depression state, it’s similar with the “cortex flipping” condition.

In this case, we as coaches need to help them to shift to experiment state, even better… don’t let them fall into frustration and depression state.

The Drama Triangle

Those three things I mentioned above are only the background on why certain people behave in certain ways.

Stephen Karpman introduced The Drama Triangle in 1968. It is also known as Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). Read more about it in and

He introduced three roles involved in DDT. Those are victim, persecutor and rescuer.

Victim has the characteristic of feeling powerless. Usually victim will say these words: “Poor me”, “This is bad”, “Here we go again :(“, “Always me who is suffer”.

Persecutor‘s characteristic is always blaming. He thinks that he is the one who has all the answers. Usually persecutor will say “They’re all wrong”, “I know the best!”, “They never get it”.

Rescuer is a person who always has the urge on look after others and forgetting about himself until at some point he will feel drained. The words coming from rescuers are usually “Poor him”, “I must help”, “I’ll fix this for you”.

Those three roles basically have one common thing: VICTIM CONCIOUSNESS.

Let’s imagine this scenario.

One day, a rescuer who always help a victim need a help and ask the victim a help. Victim refuses to give help, then the rescuer will say “I helped you a lot, why you don’t want to help me for this little thing? I feel so sad!” (this is when the rescuer become the victim).

Then the victim will say “Ah…so you help me for something in return? I thought you are different!” (this is when the victim become persecutor)

Then the persecutor say “See..I told you to stop helping him. Let me help you this time” (:D then the persecutor become the rescuer)

That scenario can last forever πŸ˜€ just like the circle of satan …never ending story.

My question: Do you want to be in that condition?

What Can I Do As A Scrum Master

I shared some tips and coaching tools in Scrum Day Bandung on how to handle such condition. If you missed Scrum Day Bandung, that is a pity πŸ™‚ But don’t worry, I’ll try to share here too.

Oxygen Mask

Do you remember what the flight attendant used to remind you when the air pressure in the airplane is dropped?

Yes, wear your oxygen mask first, then help others.

Here, same rule applied. If you want to help someone to escape the drama triangle, then you need to help yourself first. Never try to help someone while you’re still in the victim or rescuer or persecutor role.

1 on 1 Coaching Session

I also suggested to have a one on one coaching session with the person that is stuck in the drama triangle.

Whenever you’re doing the coaching session, please ensure that you’re using these 2 mandatory tools: active listening and powerful question.

If you haven’t heard about those two tools above, please read and learn from the link I shared. Those are the basic tools you can use for any other tools.

Scale Of Awfulness

I learned about this tools in ICAgile Agile Coaching training by Simon Powers (Adventure With Agile).

Get your coachee to draw a line. Write 0 on the left edge and 10 on the right edge.

Ask the coachee what is his worst situation, something that makes him suffer a lot. Put that situation on the 10 position.

Then ask the coachee about his current “problem” he’s facing. Ask him to put that into the Scale of Awfulness.

You know… in most cases your coachee will put his problem around the scale of 30 to 40.

Here is the time you need to help your coachee to see that what he’s facing is not really endanger him. Use powerful question and active listening to help him seeing at options and ideas on how to deal with his situation.

Journey Line

Another tool I learned from ICAgile Agile Coaching training.

The steps are like these:

  1. Draw a shape like below
  2. Ask your cocahee what is currently he’s facing
  3. Ask him to put it in somewhere in the area (most probably it’s below the axis line, since it’s a problem and it’s negative condition)
  4. Ask the coachee to go to the point when things are starting. If it’s on positive condition, draw a dot on top of the axis line, if it’s negative then draw it below the axis line)
  5. Keep on asking until finally you reach to the current condition (step 2).
  6. Bring the coachee to see to the past, right from step 4.
    Help him to see the success and failure he faced until the current condition (step 2).
  7. Now ask him to see to future. Draw a dot on the right top side and ask him what’s success looks like in relation to his current condition. Put that on the dot on the right top side.
  8. Ask him what are the options that he possibly could do to reach there, considering the past success and failure and also the current condition. Don’t forget to use powerful question and active listening.
  9. Come to an agreement with him about what are the action plan after this coaching session.

You see, basically what you do as a coach is only helping your coachee to see that he has options!

Some people just need help to see options. Mostly they already have the answers of their problems. They just need a little help to see it.

Celebrate Small Wins

During the coaching period, remember to celebrate small wins. Don’t focus on big change, focus on baby steps

Baby steps will reduce the pressure of taking big leaps

Remember, baby steps not always forward, It can also backward. Backward doesn’t always bad. Sometime you need to take a step back to move forward better.


Remember in the beginning of the article I shared that basically people are afraid of change? Basically not the change itself that frightened people, but the condition where they don’t understand about the change is.

People are afraid of things they don’t understand

Bill Laswell

That condition will trigger the brain react wrongly and cause people to move to depression and frustration state in the Kubler-Ross Change Curve.

In my opinion, those reactions can be minimized by having a proper communication whenever a change will be made in your organization.
With proper communication, people will see how the changes effect their condition and how they fit into the new condition.

The Empowerment Dynamic

The goal of the coaching activities above is basically shifting the reaction in Dreaded Drama Triangle into something new. Which is The Empowerment Dynamic (TED).

You can read more about The Empowerment Dynamic here:

In The Empowerment Dynamic, there are three roles as well. Those roles are creator, challenger and coach.

Creator has the mindset of “I am a person with options”. He doesn’t feel powerless, he is a person who has responsibility on his own life. Problem exists but I have option.

Challenger has the mindset of supporting and encouraging. He will always think that “I want to be firm but also fair”, “I want to support and encourage my team”, “Is my intention truly to help and challenge others?”, “I must bring a healthy pressure”

Coach always believe that everyone has the potential and capability to face their challenges. He will reveal the potential inside his coachee. He will always thing that “Creators are capable of doing this”, “I listen, support and encourage others”. He has the mindset of “It’s better to teach how to do fishing rather than giving the fish”


In Scrum Day Bandung, I closed my session with this quote:

The person you should be better than isThe person you were yesterday

I don’t know in what triangle and in what role you are currently in. But make sure that you should be better than yourself now.

Never stop learning. Be humble. Stay curious. Scrum On.

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