Like all grand ideas, philosophies or mantras there are key values that underpin the very essence of what they represent.
A value is more than just an agreement or buzzword that is thrown around to set a mood, but instead really means a huge impact in how you interact & navigate with others.
An example, we all have that one or two friends that are exceptional to you for whatever reasons. Maybe they are considerate of your time, blunt and to the point about sharing the truth with you, or perhaps just a really good study partner to do work for the next 8 hours straight.
What you have just expressed or thought off are the core values this specific friend has that ultimately build his/her character as a whole that you call as your friend.
See what we did here to unpack the layers of why a person does what they tend to do…
There is a saying that you are probably familiar with from a famous author Ralph Emerson, that goes like this:
Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny
Simple, yet powerfully complicated in practise, but legendary in outcome.
Similarly, what makes a person or a team perform they desire to be is because they align to a strong set of values that they prescribe to in order to build the results they want.
So, how does this all relates to scrum? A LOT. actually. If you are familiar with previous content you will know that much of scrum & agile implementation in general is stemmed from a way of thinking.
To help shape this way of thinking, scrum too has provided a set of values that are designed to guide team members in becoming more complete as a unit to deliver exceptionally.
I’m going to follow through the list of values that scrum provides in detail while also expanding as to how they are impacted in real life. After all, theory can only get you so far.
Later my intent is to also elaborate by sharing some of our values in which compliment the scrum values nicely.
A super power at most. Focus is the difference between a high performer than others. Just as how honing in a niche provides businesses the opportunity to really solve its customers needs, focus in any regard allows for micro attention to detail that reveals greater gain than a wide cast thought. When focus is applied greater results are produced which means efficiencies in other areas also.
A quote I like is from a popular podcaster named Jocko Willink where he brings to life the realities of war and mental resilience. In one of his books he quotes; “slow is smooth, smooth is fast”. I like this quote because what it really brings it down to is the essence of focus and control. Very unlikely is it true that we are effective at focusing on a task unless we have dedicated a significant amount of hours to a task. So in this case, slow is focus which brings more results since more attention is given to detail in the moment while leading to stronger outcomes. Hence smooth which from my understanding implies a steady consistent progress – exactly what a scrum team is all about.
In scrum we want to build in reliability & consistency in our work planning. If a team is all over the place and not dedicated to a single outcome, they are sure to be lost in the unnecessary details. Just as how the purpose of a sprint is to timebox an amount of work to be completed, focus integrated from the planning stages of the sprint is a way to create meaningful results that add value to the end user quickly.
A team with a focused goal, with a timeboxed limit & the freedom to maneuver with autonomy within will do all possible work to deliver. Remember work to be complete will take the amount of time given.
Openness. Such a taboo or even odd entry in the scrum values, but really tackles a deeper human element in team cohesion. Much of this can be related to being vulnerable, something I know many struggle to admit or even experience. I say vulnerability because to be open is to be exposed & raw. Think about it – Bug going to halt your entire sprint delivery? Didn’t understand the story requirement & built the wrong product? These aren’t easy conversations to have but will guarantee will occur in a team like setting. Regardless of the team setting, any human interaction really – hence vulnerability.
In scrum this ties closely to trust. Trust cannot be understated in its ability to bridge people together but also the level of output a team can collectively produce. Being open means that trust is the foundation of all conversation. A team that can be open about anything and everything can adapt, maneuver, decide, & own its delivery. Openness is essential in the path to true agile enlightenment.
Of course the other angle of openness that I cannot forget is the very acceptance of agile thinking & hence change. It can be quite difficult to have an entire team perform when one member is not exactly open to the way agile thinking is. As in other topics, the alignment of all members to how the team adopts & runs with scrum is critical for the success. If not – the precursor to even getting started with scrum processes.
If openness is the ability to be real with your team & accept change is really the only constant – then courage is the bigger, knee-jerking emotion that makes many of us think twice. Why though? Being brave isn’t it? Well courage for a team is not in its simplest form of what we understand. Try the idea of being open to the team about even the good/bad/ugly/very ugly. Again trust is a huge factor here, & of course it should. Although what I want to highlight is the need that being agile means to incorporate all information on an evolving basis to make informed decisions. So you can start to see how being courageous is important to a team’s success. You see that iceberg in the distance you better tell the captain so that there is enough time to steer clear.
Once you have established the notion of a focused direction, an open & courageous atmosphere, there is nothing left but to lock it down and commit. Commitment is that scary thing that many like to evade since sometimes it means less accountability… But to be true to your team and producing the end deliverable, means that an underlying commitment as a team player is non negotiable. That means that we play to the teams decisions, we give our best ability to the team cause while still open to the many changes happening. As crazy as it sounds, it is like a relationship. A mutual agreement that all members take to get the job done. Treat it with honest judgement and apply the other values & you may even build better relationships with your team
Finally, putting this all together is the underlying agreement to respecting each other. There is a reason as to why we would sing the rhyme when we were children because it still holds value long into our adult lives.
Agile is going to be hectic, unpredictable, confusing, at times but isn’t that just like any life projects? End of the day, you are going to dress up , show up & be engaged in your team. With the key denominator being that you are going to be involved everyday with your colleagues, stakeholders, and team. So yes, be respectful – realize that everyone brings something unique to the table and hence is the reason why they are part of your team in the first place. Remember that a scrum team is fully independent and cross functional – meaning it is a self contained unit able to produce from conception to reality. That involves a lot of trust and respect to your fellow team mates in getting the job done.
Again another analogy from war & combat from Jocko Willink I like – soldiers have disciplined in their values of respect because they knew that their training and commitment to the mission would allow them to prevail. They rely and respect the calls & decisions made from all units in the force. An unfathomable level of trust and respect that is garners the deep brotherhood comradery relationships within the unit. It’s this trust again & belief in the other soldiers ability to commit in getting the job done whether it be – covering fire, securing hostiles, or bringing air support that makes the force so effective. Imagine if there was no commitment within a military unit? There would be a whole lot of problems in times of crisis. So next time, you think of your team member in a time crunch delivery you may want to see it as the combat zone to rely on each other. A stretch I know… but you get the picture.