We’re on our last Scrum Value (and possibly the end of my Scrum walkthrough unless I think of any more topics to cover). This time it’s the turn of Commitment.
To help me describe the importance of the values and how they relate to day to day work I’ve used the questions Steve Trapp has posted in his excellent blog post. Under Commitment he asks:
- I always know what the sprint goal is and how my work supports it.
- I do everything I can to ensure we achieve the goals of the sprint.
- In my current team, I have never thought of taking a sick day to avoid going into work.
- I always arrive on time for the events, my colleagues never have to wait for me to start the event.
- I know what it means to say that an item is done, i.e. I know the criteria that meets our Definition of Done.
This shows very clearly how important Commitment is to Scrum Team members. We value people working to support the Sprint Goal, doing everything they can to achieve it, and not being dishonest with our team members (no matter how hungover we may be!).
It’s also about professionalism. Arriving on time to events and ensuring that work we deliver is complete and meets the Definition of Done.
The Scrum Guide itself even has the concept of Commitments. The Product Goal, The Sprint Goal, and the Definition of Done. These are promises we make that we will aim towards. Commitment as a Scrum Value reinforces that idea of deliverying what we set out to right down to the individual level.
When I talk about commitment I think a lot about the book 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. In it Lencioni discusses the importance of creating safety in our teams (respect for others), how this makes people feel confident to engage in discussions and voice their opinions (openness and courage). If people don’t feel they have their chance to voice their points of view then they will not commit to a decision and will not hold each other accountable for the results. By valuing Courage, Openness, and Respect so highly the Scrum Framework is building an environment where team members can commit to a decision or Sprint Goal and will want to do what’s needed to achieve it. Commitment stops being about “going the extra mile” for the company and starts being about colleagues and teammates working together towards a shared goal. This is what commitment is about for me, not about “taking one for he team” and working yet another late night.
When Scrum Team members all commit to a goal they will often find a way to achieve it, even if the original plan which comes out of Sprint Planning turns out not to work. Team Members become determined to adapt and find a solution despite the inevitable challenges.
What does commitment mean to you? Do you think you need to be working in a team where you feel safe before you can commit to a goal? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.