Like in a game of rugby, SCRUM (developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland – 1990) is all about teamwork because again, like rugby, you cannot play by yourself. For a SCRUM-focused team to be successful, you need everyone involved to prioritise certain values, targets and markers of success.
Less known and probably under-highlighted, but no less important, are the core SCRUM values upon which the framework is based. Although not originally devised as a part of SCRUM, or exclusive to SCRUM, these values give crucial direction to our work, our behaviour and our actions.
Scrum, for anyone unsure is a set of practices used in agile project management that emphasize daily communication and the flexible reassessment of plans that are carried out in short, iterative phases of work. It’s name originates from the sport of Rugby and the much like the scrums they have in the game, teams will huddle together regularly, but and not guaranteed, less rough.
I have personally found it very useful to bring these values out into the open much more, to assess and appraise the added value of a project’s actions and outcomes.
Courage is critical to any team’s success. SCRUM teams must feel safe enough to say ‘no’ where necessary, to ask for help and to branch out and try new things. Teams must be brave enough to question the ‘status quo’ when it threatens their ability to succeed.
SCRUM Masters are fearless about removing impediments that slow the team down. They also stand up to stakeholders to prevent changes or side projects during the Sprint while helping teams adapt when priorities shift and the goalposts move.
Focus is one of the best skills that a SCRUM team can develop. Focus enables a SCRUM team to finish whatever they start. Teams are relentless about limiting the amount of WIP, thus streamlining their work processes and seeing enhanced results.
Commitment is essential for building an AGILE business culture. SCRUM teams work together as a unit. This means that they, and other teams trust each other to follow through on what they say they are going to do. When SCRUM team members are not sure how work is going, they are not afraid to ask. They only agree to take on tasks they believe they can complete, so they are careful not to overcommit.
Respect allows SCRUM team members to demonstrate courtesy and compassion to one another, to the product owner, to stakeholders and to the SCRUM Master. Teams know that their strength lies in how well they collaborate, and that everyone has a distinct contribution to make towards completing the work. They respect each other’s ideas, give each other permission to have a bad day occasionally and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
The openness of SCRUM teams means that members are continuously seeking out new ideas and opportunities to learn for the benefit of all.
SCRUM Masters encourage openness in Sprint reviews by ensuring that stakeholder feedback is constructive and that team members all get to hear it. SCRUM Masters remind teams that learning about product shortcomings early on in the process is much less expensive and much more helpful than finding out about them later in the project, or worse, after the product is in the customer’s hands.
In a SCRUM context, the decisions we make, the steps we take, the way we play the game and the activities we surround SCRUM with should reinforce each of these values and not diminish or undermine them. Through incorporating the SCRUM values, we can create an environment for learning through experimentation and trust.