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 master or 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 Scrum methodology, 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, patient, or customer. Most importantly, each team member plays a different role in creating this value.
- Read more about Scrum roles and responsibilities with our quick walkthrough.
Scrum teams implement these values in many ways, including sprint reviews, retrospectives, and daily standups in which members get a chance to review what everyone has completed.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Scrum values mean.
The first Scrum value is commitment, which may sound simple on paper. Just come into 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.
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 and multitask 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 methodology.
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 talk openly about individual workloads to ensure they only assign an achievable number of tasks. Take on too many objectives, and everyone will feel overwhelmed.
Openness means being open-minded in terms of communication between members of different disciplines. Foster a culture that welcomes new ideas and styles of working, which 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. If there isn’t a culture of transparency, bottlenecks, roadblocks, and missed deadlines will soon follow.
Respect requires treating people as equals regardless of age, education, social position, etc. Who your co-workers are outside of the Scrum team doesn’t matter; 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 for their 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.
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 in motivation, enthusiasm, and drive, and you’ll have the formula to keep morale high at all times.
Scrum values vs. Scrum principles: what’s the difference?
Think of Scrum values as the commandments and Scrum principles as guidelines for following the methodology. For best results, use both together.
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 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.
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