Scrum is not only a set of practices. It is also based on a set of values.
Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living five values: Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage
— Scrum Guide, 2020
Scrum is based on values.
Values can give direction when there is no clear direction visible. When there is no rule to follow, values can help orient ourselves.
Proclaiming values alone doesn’t serve a purpose, though. We need to live up to the values in our daily actions.
This article provides an overview of the Scrum values and ideas about how to live them in practice.
Scrum is about working towards goals.
Psychology suggests that commitment helps to achieve goals. It increases the probability to be successful.
Commitment is a choice, which we can exercise every day.
We can choose to work towards the Product Goal and the Sprint Goals. Choose to collaborate. Choose to live up to the values. Finally, we can choose to do quality work according to our Definition of Done.
Scrum is about doing the right thing, but acting in uncertainty requires courage.
In Scrum, we embrace the idea that knowledge comes from experience. Sometimes that requires us to place our bets without knowing whether we will succeed. We know about the uncertainty and move things forward anyway. We know about the inevitable risk of failure. Nevertheless, we set out to discover and solve customers‘ problems. We come up with ideas, define goals and work towards them.
Another way to show courage is to share ideas with our team. You can show courage by speaking up and raising concerns if necessary. Engage in constructive conflict. Take charge for the improvement of our teamwork. It also takes courage to admit when you are wrong and learn from it.
Scrum is about finishing and not just starting.
Focus is crucial for that. In fact, working on too many things at once is a sure way to get nothing done.
We establish a focus on our everyday actions by making sure our work is in alignment with our Sprint Goal. In the planning of a Sprint, we make sure that a Sprint Goal is agreed upon that helps us achieve the Product Goal. We avoid being distracted from the Sprint Goal by ourselves and others.
Scrum is an empirical approach that requires openness. It’s the basic ingredient for continuous improvement.
We can demonstrate openness when confronted with different ideas, viewpoints, or insights. Showing curiosity and taking seriously what others say is a way to show openness. Being open to feedback. You do not have to agree, but you should try to understand the meaning and be open to make up your mind. Even giving Scrum a try can be a demonstration of openness.
Another way to show openness is to share what’s on your mind. Contribute your ideas to the team. Share knowledge. A person living up to the value doesn’t withhold information.
Scrum is teamwork. Scrum without teamwork is nothing.
The team is the fundamental unit of Scrum. But we should never forget that individuals make up a team. Showing respect starts with small acts like actually listening to other people. Not just listening to answer but listening to understand. It’s important to respect individual boundaries and hold each other accountable. We can make it safe to raise concerns or admit mistakes. Appreciate each contribution and stay constructive even when you disagree.
Teams that manage to make everyone feel respected can truly thrive. Respecting each one individually is not just an act of humanity – it pays off.
Scrum is based on these five values, but values need people to come to life. Our everyday actions count.
So what can we do to live up to the values?
We can reflect on whether our daily actions align with those values. We can refer to the values if we are in doubt and put them to practice. Above all, we can remember one thing: People and their interactions make teams successful, not processes.