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What are the 5 Scrum values, and why are they important?

PostsProject management
Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

May 24, 2024

Scrum is one of the most widely used project management methodologies in action today. Why? It promotes a sense of personal responsibility, adds structure to complex projects, and keeps the work moving steadily. Scrum is also highly adaptable, able to fit into just about any workplace culture or situation. One of the most important things you’ll learn as a Scrum team member is the five core Scrum values.

In the same way that values drive behavior in an individual or company, Scrum values exist to help team members reach their full potential. In this article, we’ll break down each one and give you an understanding of how it influences team performance.

What are the five Scrum values?

The five Scrum values are commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage. In the Scrum framework, these values serve as a guide for individual and team behavior, intending to boost collaboration and increase the odds of project success.

Scrum teams focus on four key roles: product owner, Scrum master, team members, and stakeholders. All of these individuals work towards one common goal — creating value for the client or customer. Most importantly, each team member plays a different role in creating this value.

Scrum teams implement these values in many ways, including sprint reviews, retrospectives, and daily standups, during which members review what everyone has completed.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Scrum values mean.

1. Commitment

The first Scrum value is commitment, which may sound simple on paper. Just come to work every day with a positive attitude, hit deadlines, and follow instructions, right? In this context, commitment is about staying dedicated to the objectives you developed as a team.

Contributing to team success and meeting daily challenges is crucial, but it’s equally important to speak up if the project is off track. Scrum teaches you to seek continuous improvement and optimize your efforts. So, a crucial part of commitment is reflecting on the common goal and making sure you’re prioritizing tasks that actually add value. Scrum masters can help foster commitment through good communication and proper sprint planning.

2. Focus

Focus is about staying on track and helping other team members do the same. A key part of the Scrum methodology is the sprint, a time-bound and defined work period for completing a series of tasks.

To focus on these tasks, your team must eliminate distractions as much as possible. Distractions can cause setbacks that lengthen the time necessary to complete tasks. The end result is excessive overtime work, which defeats the purpose of using an Agile framework.

Standup meetings are a great opportunity to explain the sprint goal and plan what will be completed within this timeframe. To help team members focus, Scrum masters should openly discuss individual workloads to ensure they assign only an achievable number of tasks. Take on too many objectives, and everyone will feel overwhelmed.

3. Openness

Openness means being open-minded about communication between members of different disciplines. Fostering a culture that welcomes new ideas and working styles can help the team move forward.

Being open as an individual also means being honest about what you can achieve and how your work will affect other team members. Without a culture of transparency, bottlenecks, roadblocks, and missed deadlines will soon follow.

4. Respect

Respect requires treating people as equals regardless of age, education, social position, etc. It doesn’t matter who your co-workers are outside of the Scrum team; all that matters is how they work together on team goals. It’s also about respecting and understanding customers and stakeholders, so you’re better equipped to meet their needs.

Respect means that teammates should appreciate each other’s strengths in terms of hard and soft skills. It also means respecting others’ decisions and opinions, even if you disagree with them.

The Scrum Guide emphasizes the need to trust others on your team once roles are assigned. You shouldn’t micromanage what everyone else is doing or constantly undermine someone else’s skills by trying to take over their role. Respect enables better communication between members of different roles, as well as the ability to accept constructive criticism without letting it affect your ego.

5. Courage

Display courage by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone to achieve success. By staying committed to the goal and focusing less on yourself, you can solve challenging problems and produce unexpected results.

Be willing to confront the unknown. If you encounter things you don’t understand or identify a problem, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Your ability to speak honestly and question the status quo may be the key to driving improvement during a particular sprint.

A combination of these values contributes significantly to a team’s overall performance. Add motivation, enthusiasm, and drive, and you’ll have the formula for keeping morale high at all times.

Examples of Scrum values

  • Example of commitment: A software development team embraced the Scrum value of commitment by establishing clear sprint goals and encouraging open communication. Despite facing unexpected technical challenges, team members remained dedicated to their objectives and collaborated effectively to overcome obstacles. As a result, they successfully delivered a high-quality product within the sprint timeframe.
  • Example of focus: In a manufacturing improvement initiative, the Scrum value of focus was exemplified when the production team dedicated a sprint to optimizing assembly line processes to reduce cycle times and improve product quality. By allocating resources and attention to this specific objective, team members were able to identify and address inefficiencies, streamline workflows, and implement lean manufacturing principles. As a result, the team achieved notable improvements in productivity and cost savings, demonstrating the power of focus in driving continuous improvement and operational excellence.
  • Example of openness: In a software development project, the Scrum value of openness was exemplified when team members openly shared their expertise and feedback during sprint planning sessions. By fostering an environment of transparency and collaboration, the team was able to identify potential risks early on and proactively address them, resulting in smoother project execution and higher-quality deliverables.
  • Example of respect: In a healthcare initiative to improve patient care processes, the Scrum value of respect was demonstrated through the recognition and appreciation of diverse perspectives within the interdisciplinary team. By valuing each team member’s unique contributions and experiences, the team was able to leverage a holistic approach to problem-solving and develop patient-centered solutions that better met the needs of all stakeholders.
  • Example of courage: In a marketing campaign project, the Scrum value of courage was demonstrated when team members voiced concerns about an ineffective strategy during a sprint review. By courageously challenging the status quo and proposing alternative approaches, the team was able to pivot their tactics and achieve better results, ultimately exceeding client expectations.

Common challenges and solutions

  • Challenge: Maintaining focus amid frequent interruptions and competing priorities.
    • Solution: Implement time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique to minimize distractions and increase productivity during sprint cycles.
  • Challenge: Overcoming resistance to change and ingrained cultural norms that may conflict with Scrum values.
    • Solution: Facilitate open discussions and workshops to explore the benefits of adopting Scrum values and address concerns or misconceptions. Provide training and support to help team members navigate the transition and embrace new ways of working.
  • Challenge: Balancing short-term goals with long-term objectives within the sprint timeframe.
    • Solution: Prioritize tasks based on their alignment with overarching project goals and regularly reassess sprint priorities to ensure they contribute to broader strategic objectives. Encourage open dialogue between team members and stakeholders to clarify expectations and maintain alignment.
  • Challenge: Dealing with scope creep and changes in project requirements during the sprint.
    • Solution: Establish a robust change management process that requires clear justification for any modifications to sprint goals or deliverables. Encourage early identification of potential changes and facilitate collaborative decision-making to evaluate their impact on project timelines and resources. Emphasize the importance of maintaining flexibility while adhering to the agreed-upon sprint scope.
  • Challenge: Addressing communication barriers and fostering effective collaboration among geographically dispersed or remote team members.
    • Solution: Leverage technology-enabled collaboration tools such as video conferencing, chat platforms, and collaborative document sharing to facilitate real-time interaction and information exchange. Establish regular check-in meetings and virtual stand-ups to maintain team cohesion and provide opportunities for feedback and discussion. Encourage active participation and create a supportive virtual environment where all team members feel valued and included.

Useful tools and techniques


  • Collaborative Online Whiteboards: Platforms like Cacoo or Visio enable teams to visually brainstorm ideas, organize information, and collaborate on projects in real-time. These tools promote openness to diverse perspectives and facilitate effective communication, particularly in remote or distributed team settings.
  • Collaboration Platforms: Tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams provide a centralized hub for team communication, while collaboration tools like Backlog facilitate task management and project collaboration. By fostering real-time communication and knowledge sharing among distributed team members, these platforms promote openness and collaboration regardless of geographical location.
  • Digital sticky notes: When choosing a collaborative online whiteboard, teams should be sure they also have digital sticky notes for visual project management and collaboration. These tools allow teams to organize tasks, track progress, and prioritize work in a flexible and transparent manner.
  • Project management tools: Apart from communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, teams can explore project management tools with built-in communication features, such as Backlog or Jira. These integrated platforms streamline workflow management and communication, enhancing team collaboration and productivity.


  • Five Whys Technique: During retrospectives, teams can utilize the Five Whys technique to uncover the root causes of issues or challenges encountered during the sprint. By repeatedly asking “why” to drill down into the underlying causes of a problem, teams can foster openness and facilitate deeper understanding and reflection.
  • Peer Feedback Sessions: Implementing peer feedback sessions at the end of each sprint encourages constructive communication and fosters a culture of continuous improvement and respect within the team. By providing structured opportunities for team members to offer feedback and share insights, this technique promotes transparency and strengthens team dynamics.
  • Fishbone diagrams: Alongside the Five Whys technique, teams can incorporate the Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa Diagram) to visualize and analyze the potential causes of a problem or issue. By mapping out contributing factors across different categories, teams can gain deeper insights into complex issues and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Daily Stand-up Meetings: Implement daily stand-up meetings, also known as daily scrums, as a technique to promote communication, collaboration, and focus within the team. These short, time-boxed meetings typically occur at the same time and place each day and provide an opportunity for team members to synchronize their activities, discuss progress, and identify any impediments or blockers. By fostering regular communication and alignment around sprint goals, daily stand-ups help maintain focus and momentum throughout the sprint cycle.

Scrum values vs. Scrum principles

Think of Scrum values as commandments and Scrum principles as guidelines for following the methodology. Use both together for best results.

Below are the six Scrum principles:

  • Empirical process control: Scrum teams adapt and change based on project needs.
  • Self-organization: Each team member is responsible for managing and completing their own tasks.
  • Time-boxing: Teams spend a fixed amount of time in sprint planning and review, daily Scrums, sprints, and retrospectives.
  • Value-based prioritization: Each team member works on the highest-priority items first.
  • Inspection and adaptation: The team conducts frequent inspections to ensure everyone is focused and implements changes as needed to stay on track.
  • Iterative development: The team frequently inspects the processes and products to weed out inefficiencies and improve upon them. As a result, no two Scrums are ever the same.
  • Working collaboratively: Team members put aside their differences in opinion to deliver what will benefit the product or service as a whole. Trust is essential because it makes communication easier between team members. Instead of worrying about ulterior motives, everyone simply focuses on the project.

Scrum values vs. Scrum pillars

The distinction between Scrum values and Scrum pillars lies in their focus and purpose within the Scrum framework:

  • Scrum values are guiding principles that influence the behavior and interactions of individuals within a Scrum team. They emphasize the mindset and culture necessary for effective collaboration, communication, and teamwork.
  • Scrum pillars are foundational elements of the Scrum framework that support its empirical approach to software development. They emphasize key principles and practices that enable transparency, inspection, and adaptation throughout the project lifecycle.

While Scrum values focus on fostering a collaborative and respectful team culture, Scrum pillars provide the structural framework for how work is managed and executed within the Scrum process. Both are essential components of the Scrum framework, working in tandem to support successful project delivery.

The three pillars of Scrum

Scrum is built upon three foundational pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation. These pillars form the bedrock of Scrum’s empirical approach to software development, emphasizing continual improvement and responsiveness to change.

1. Transparency:

Transparency is the cornerstone of Scrum, ensuring that all aspects of the project are visible and understood by everyone involved. This includes transparency of work progress, impediments, and decision-making processes. By promoting transparency, Scrum enables stakeholders to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information. Team members are encouraged to openly share their work, challenges, and progress during sprint activities, fostering trust and collaboration within the team.

2. Inspection:

The second pillar of Scrum is inspection, which involves regularly evaluating the product increment and the process by which it is created. Through frequent inspection, teams can identify deviations from the desired outcome and detect potential risks or issues early on. Inspection points, such as sprint reviews and daily stand-up meetings, provide opportunities for stakeholders to assess the product and provide feedback, enabling course correction as needed. By embracing inspection, Scrum teams can continuously improve the quality of their deliverables and adapt to changing requirements or circumstances.

3. Adaptation:

Adaptation is the third pillar of Scrum, emphasizing the need for flexibility and responsiveness to change. Scrum recognizes that uncertainty and complexity are inherent in software development projects, and therefore advocates for an iterative and incremental approach to product development. By embracing adaptation, Scrum teams can adjust their plans, processes, and product backlog based on feedback and evolving requirements. Sprint retrospectives, where teams reflect on their performance and identify areas for improvement, serve as a mechanism for fostering adaptation and driving continuous innovation.

Scrum and Agile tools

Scrum values are a set of virtues that everyone should strive to embrace as a team. Not only will they help you push through the most complex tasks, but they also foster great teamwork and clarity in all your decisions. These values help build the norms that shape how a Scrum team operates.

In general, teams new to Scrum will have an existing set of cultural practices in place from prior methodologies (such as waterfall). In the beginning, you may encounter conflict between existing norms and the new Scrum values. The best way to promote a positive transition is to be aware of key differences between these two sets of values and help team members adjust their mindsets accordingly. That way,  Scrum teams have a foundation for future growth.

Project management software can help organize your Scrum tasks and keep teams on track. With Backlog, our PM software, all the task-management tools and reports you need to become a well-oiled machine are accessible via one easy-to-use platform. By harnessing features like notifications, task management, and real-time tracking, you can boost collaboration, transparency, and trust within the team, vital ingredients to upholding Scrum values.

This post was originally published on January 21, 2022, and updated most recently on May 24, 2024.



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