Addressing the heart of Scrum: the Scrum Values

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Scrum is mainly known for its visible roles, events and artifacts. But there are some elements, less visible to the naked eye, that are of utmost importance in using Scrum.

Scrum focuses on individuals and their interaction, rather than on processes or tools. Scrum is also organized around values ​​that Scrum Teams could (and should!) leverage. Those Scrum Values are:

  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect
  • Courage

(Please note that I mention the Scrum Values ​​in a random order. There is no hierarchy; all values ​​are equally important.)

According to the Scrum Guide, Scrum is easy to understand but difficult to master. And the parts that are hard to master are usually the things involved with change in human behavior. For a team to be successful with Scrum, both developers and the Product Owner should be making (Scrum) values their own, thus making significant behavioral changes. Adhering to the Scrum Values ​​helps many underperforming Scrum Teams in creating a solid foundation for maximizing their team potential. However, also well-oiled, fully functional Scrum Teams should take the Scrum Values at heart to continuously improve their team interactions.

Addressing the heart of Scrum: the Scrum Values

The Scrum Values in detail

Below, I will explain each individual Scrum Value. I will also direct to a more detailed blog post per Scrum Value.

Commitment is about staying dedicated and (intrinsically) motivated to the goals you set up as a Scrum Team. At the heart of commitment lies a purpose – or: goal. You can more easily commit to something if the overarching goal is clearly formulated and you can support it with the entire Scrum Team. Read this article if you want to know more about commitment.

Focus is about focusing on the tasks to achieve the overarching goals. To focus on these tasks, the Scrum Team needs to eliminate distractions and avoid multitasking as much as possible. Read this article if you want to know more about focus.

Openness is about valuing ​​candor and honest communication to all team members and stakeholders without fear. To ensure that the Scrum Team makes the most progress in the shortest amount of time, each team member must be honest and open about their own progress. Read this article if you want to know more about openness.

Respect is about respecting each other to be capable, independent people. To work as a Scrum Team, members must respect each other’s differences. Everyone should assume that other team members have good intentions and are doing their best to achieve the same goal. Read this article if you want to know more about respect.

Courage is about having the courage to do what needs to be done and not being afraid that it won’t work. Scrum values ​​the courage of each individual contributor to the team. The Scrum Teams need to feel safe enough to say no, ask for help, and try new things. Read this article if you want to know more about courage.

Beyond paying lip service

One may talk the talk, but does one walk the walk? Values are typically subjected to payment in lip service. Memorizing each of them for your assessments. Stick ‘em on a poster. And never to use them again. Such is however, the fate of many a value. It’s easy to talk about values, but how should you propagate these?

Propagating and utilizing the Scrum Values is one of those typical things that separates the best Scrum Teams from the good Scrum Teams.

And the best Scrum Masters from the good Scrum Masters! Influencing behavioral change is almost a profession in its own right and the Scrum Master has to master their role as a mentor and coach to help Scrum Teams make the Scrum Values their own. It is important to be continuously aware of the application of the Scrum Values during Sprints and important to reflect on these during the various Scrum Events. The entire Scrum Team should be applying these values, just as much as the roles, events and artifacts!

Download the official Scrum Values Poster here:

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