Values are central to our living and working together and also have a significant influence on the success of a project. In Agile Projects, values have a high importance so that project teams work together even more successfully and deliver innovative solutions in a short time. Values in working together should be taken for granted—but they are not. When was the last time values were discussed in your company or team? This article introduces you to the 5 Scrum values and shows how project teams apply them even more successful.
Agile Process Models are Based on a Value System
Take two successful university graduates, two extroverts, a programmer and a doctor—and the perfect project team is ready. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It’s always apparent that it’s not only important who is in a team but also how the members work together.
Scrum as an agile process model is based on different practices, principles and values and only when these interact, Scrum unfolds its full potential. The five values of Scrum are derived from the values of the agile manifesto and should not be confused with these. The 5 Scrum values mean more immaterial, moral, or inner values and patterns of behavior. They therefore have a strong relationship to agile attitudes.
Our Interaction with Others
Values are defined as patterns of behavior that represent us and our way of dealing with others. According to the German sociologist, Hans Joas, values are attractively motivating, while standards are restrictive and mandatory. Therefore, values are broader-based than standards. They are open to interpretations and discussions, because they are rather abstract. Standards are much more specific.
The 5 Scrum values mean more immaterial, moral, or inner values and patterns of behavior.
The Scrum Values as the Foundation
The five Scrum values are the foundation of Scrum. They were included in the updated Scrum Guide in 2016. Only a few values were deliberately chosen in Scrum so that they can be accepted and lived. Living more values in a team would be very challenging.
When the values are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars bring transparency, inspection and adaption to life and build trust among all participants. The members of the Scrum Team learn and explore these values by working with the Scrum events, artifacts, and roles.
The successful use of Scrum is based on the fact that all participants becoming more competent in fulfilling these five values. You commit yourself to achieving the goals of the Scrum Team, and the Scrum values form the foundation for this. The members of the Scrum Team have the courage to do the right thing and to work on difficult problems. Everyone focuses on the work in the Sprint and the goals of the Scrum Team. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders agree to deal openly with all aspects of their work and the associated challenges. Members of a Scrum Team respect each other as capable, self-responsible individuals.
In the following sections you will find a detailed description of the individual Scrum values.
The value commitment in Scrum is often interpreted as: The Development Team is personally committed to achieving the set goals. This includes, for example, completing the backlog items for the Sprint by the end of the Sprint. That means no duty by the book. When problems arise, the others are helped wherever possible. You reach the goal together with full commitment!
You can imagine this is, of course, not always easy, as the team is highly dependent on the outside world e.g., through deliveries, questions remain unanswered or decisions are not made.
To meet this obligation, the Development Team commits itself, among other things, to provide a forecast in Sprint planning of which backlog items will be implemented in the current Sprint.
However, the value of commitment is much broader to understand, because this also includes commitment to the team, to quality, to cooperation and to learning. Commit to doing the best we can—every day. Commit to the Sprint goal, to Excellence… and last but not least, to the agile principles.
Do you agree, that courage in product development is very special? This must not be misunderstood, of course. However, in an agile and collaborative environment, this value is certainly appropriate. Courage thrives when teamwork is characterized by openness and respect.
We have the courage to accept requirements that are never perfect, and we know that no plan can capture reality and complexity. We have the courage to share all the information (transparency) that could help the team and the organization. Courage to change direction. We have the courage to express our own opinion (e.g., on process improvements), even against the resistance of other team members. We have the courage to share risks and benefits. Additionally, the courage to say “no” in a given situation must also be actively encouraged.
In particular, the required transparency is not easy for many people. Suddenly, it becomes very transparent what they really do, what mistakes they make and what promises cannot be kept. It takes courage to engage in complete transparency. And as a rule, this courage is rewarded, as it creates trust in the long-term.
As a Scrum Master, you often have to be courageous to protect the Development Team from external influences. The Product Owner needs courage if, for example, he makes a decision without knowing all the facts in detail.
Courage is also linked to the value of “respect” and an open-error culture. This means, for example, having the courage to talk about mistakes—including your own, of course.
Courage never means exuberance. But those who have no courage and take no risks, win nothing!
Scrum’s interactive, incremental approach and time boxing allow the Development Team to focus better while working. Once the Sprint has started, only one thing applies: To implement the backlog items. That alone is the focus of the Development Team.
A Development Team can only deliver optimal results if its work is disturbed as infrequently as possible. Any distraction should be avoided, such as day-to-day business, other projects, line meetings, helping out colleagues, etc.
The Development Team members should preferably work together on a single project, concentrated in a separate office. The tasks/requirements in the backlog items must be clearly known so that concentrated work can be carried out. The backlog items are developed one after the other, only one item is worked on if possible, and the “Definition of Done” also makes it clear when an item is completed.
The Product Owner focuses on the description of ideas, concepts and properties of the product. The Scrum Master focuses on compliance with the Scrum rules. They do everything to improve the productivity of the Development Team and to keep all disturbing influences away from the Development Team.
Information can only generate benefits if it is freely accessible and handled openly. This enables well-founded decisions, promotes efficiency during the work, and offers the highest possible transparency for the Scrum Team and the stakeholders.
In the Sprint Review Meeting, the development progress is openly presented to the stakeholders, and the team is open to their feedback.
Openness creates a working environment in which you can ask for help and offer help. Openness allows you to express your own perspective and opinion and supports team decisions. In an open-error culture, mistakes can be communicated openly so that everyone can learn from them. In Scrum you are open to work together beyond disciplines and skills and to openly exchange feedback and learn from it. It takes courage to engage in complete openness and transparency!
The Scrum framework includes various elements that promote openness, such as a transparent Product Backlog, the Sprint Retrospective, the Daily Scrum, taskboards, etc.
Openness creates trust!
Openness offers the highest possible transparency for the Scrum Team and the stakeholders.
Respect should already be a part of everyday life, but unfortunately, it is not always. Without mutual respect, a Scrum Team will not work successfully. The team members work closely and intensively together, and this only works if they respect each other, accept their differences, know and use their strengths and respect their weaknesses and characteristics. In my opinion, respect also has a direct relation to trust and maturity.
Respect also has a strong connection to the concept of humankind of each individual employee. If we respect that people are motivated, want to perform and have good intentions, then an important building block for a productive, successful collaboration has already been laid.
Here is More Knowledge
This was a short summary of how to collaborate successfully in projects with the 5 Scrum values.
What experience did you have with collaboration in teams and values in agile projects? Do you agree with my statements or do you have another view or additions? Share your experience with me and the readers in the comment box below. Thank you!
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