So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 3 – Mind-set and Values

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 3 – Mind-set and Values

In the final part of my introduction to Scrum, I look at the mind-set and values that are central to making Scrum work.

‘What?’ not ‘How?’

The Scrum Guide specifies the necessary elements of the framework but does not dictate how they should be implemented.  This is left up to the Scrum Team to decide for themselves and the implementation often emerges and evolves through the cycles of continuous improvement.

For example, the Scrum Guide talks about the PO role and his or her responsibility for maintaining the Product Backlog. The guide does not, however, stipulate what method or criteria the PO should use to generate and order the backlog or how and where the list should be represented and stored. (Should you use an online system or paper? It doesn’t matter.) This allows for flexibility so that local and organisational context can be taken into account in the implementation.

Mind-set

This flexibility is one of the reasons that makes Scrum so powerful but the simplicity and lack of specific implementation directives makes it challenging to master and is perhaps one reason why there are many examples of Scrum implementations failing.

The ingredient that is so often missed is one of mind-set. It is not sufficient to implement Scrum as a series of tick-box exercises. It takes time and perseverance for a team and an organisation to discover how best to implement Scrum in their specific circumstances.

Values

The Guide addresses this mind-set through 5 values that it identifies as critical to its success. Promoting, encouraging and embeding these within a team can help to ensure the appropriate mind-set is adopted.

Commitment – each team member personally commits to achieving the goals of each sprint

Courage – each team member has the courage to do what is needed and to tackle tough problems

Focus – everyone in the team focuses on the work and goals of the sprint

Openness – everyone agrees to by open about their work and any challenges that they face

Respect – the team members respect one another as “capable, independent people”

To underline their significance, it is worth quoting directly from the guide:

“When the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life and build trust for everyone. The Scrum Team members learn and explore those values as they work with the Scrum events, roles and artifacts.”
https://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html#values

In many ways, the 5 values are the most important elements of Scrum. Without them, the framework is unlikely to succeed. With them, it can become a powerful force that has the potential to revolutionise the way goals and desired outcomes are achieved.

References:

A look at agile values: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/values-agiles-toughest-challenge-andy-bleach/
scrum.org: https://www.scrum.org/
Scrum Guide: https://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 2 – Core Elements

So what is ‘Scrum’? Part 2 – Core Elements

In this second post of three looking at the basics of Scrum, I introduce the core elements as described in the official Scrum Guide.

The Scrum Guide: The Key Elements of Scrum

The Scrum framework is described fully and eloquently in a relatively short document called the Scrum Guide. It outlines a number of elements:

3 Pillars:

  • Transparency – information is shared openly using a common language
  • Inspection – the scrum team frequently inspect their progress to identify areas for improvement
  • Adaptation – the process is routinely adjusted to optimise performance

3 Roles:

  • Product Owner – responsible for maximizing the value of the product via the product backlog artefact (see below)
  • Scrum Master – promotes and supports Scrum, helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values
  • Development Team – the team of professionals who do the work of delivering the ‘potentially releasable product increment’

5 Events:

  • The Sprint – a time box of 1 month or less during which a useable, ‘potentially releasable product increment’ is created
  • Sprint Planning – a time boxed session for the whole sprint team to agree on what will be delivered during the sprint
  • Daily Scrum – a time-boxed event for the development team, held at the same time every day, in which they update one another on the status of the sprint
  • Sprint Review – a review by the Scrum Team and other stakeholders of what has been done during the sprint; the Product Backlog (see below) is then amended where appropriate
  • Sprint Retrospective – an opportunity for the scrum team to inspect itself and plan improvements to the next sprint

3 Artifacts:

  • Product Backlog – an ordered list and single source of everything that is known to be needed in the product. Maintained entirely by the Product Owner
  • Sprint Backlog – subset of product backlog items selected for the sprint
  • Increment – the value delivered from all previous sprints plus the product backlog items completed during the current sprint

All of these need to be present if Scrum is to be implemented correctly (without all of these, it is technically not Scrum).  But Scrum is an intriguing, multi-faceted beast. It is designed quite intentionally as a light-weight framework which is in essence very simple to understand, however, the guide states clearly that it “…is not a process, technique, or definitive method.”

In my next post I look at the extra ingredients that are necessary to make Scrum work effectively.

References:

The Scrum Guide: https://www.scrumguides.org/