Scrum Agile Project Management

Scrum Is Built on Values

Any framework worth using is built on principles and values. Each of the original agile practices – XP, Scrum, DSDM, Crystal, and FDD – as well as Kanban and Lean, has a set of core values. These values guide us, provide clarity in times of ambiguity, and, most importantly, help us understand why we do what we do. As you read in the story above, the team was attempting to go through the motions of Scrum, but they did not understand why.

What they lacked was a clear understanding of the values behind the Scrum framework: focus, respect, commitment, courage, and openness.

Focus. To focus means to concentrate, to direct attention on something. In Scrum, the team must have focus if it is to accomplish everything that needs to be done to deliver a potentially releasable increment of functionality. Focus means working on one project at a time. It may mean having dedicated “team time,” where the entire team is off email, instant messaging, mobile phones, and meetings. Focus is doing whatever it takes to allow the team to concentrate on the delivery at hand for the entire length of any given sprint.

Respect. We have all heard that respect is earned, not granted. In Scrum, this is especially true. Respect for one’s teammates, or lack thereof, can make or break a project. High-performing Scrum teams trust each other enough to admit to obstacles. They have faith that when one team member commits to a task, that team member will follow through. There is no us versus them on a true Scrum team. In the story that opened this chapter, testers and developers were clearly at odds and had little respect for each other. The team was lucky, though, in that the people had not yet lost all respect for each other, as is evidenced by their ability to come together in the end.

Commitment. A commitment is a pledge or promise, an obligation to deliver. Commitments should not be made lightly—they should be made with as much information as possible. The team makes a commitment to the organization and to each other during each sprint planning meeting. At the end of sprint planning, each team member should have the same level of understanding about what the team is committing to accomplish during that sprint.

Courage. Courage is the ability to face difficulty in spite of your fears. Alleviating these fears is one of the best ways teams and organizations can help team members be courageous. A team that has demonstrated understanding in the face of frank discussion and an organization that has proven that it will listen to bad news objectively helps give individuals the courage to speak their minds. Remember, when teams lack the courage to do what they feel is right, the right thing will likely not be done.

Openness. Openness enables us to be receptive to new ideas. Nowhere is a team’s openness more apparent than in the sprint retrospectives. Having the willingness to receive new ideas, perceptions, and ways of thinking helps us grow into a learning organization and a high-performing team.

Source: “The Scrum Field Guide : Practical Advice for your First Year”, Mitch Lacey, Addison-Wesley, 364 pages, IBSN 978-0321554154

Value in Scrum is not only the business value that you should deliver to your customers, but also mainly the personal values that you want to respect to achieve this goal. Always remember that you want to be Agile, not just to do Agile.