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.
I’m working my way through the Scrum Values and explaining why each is so important to a Scrum Team. So far we’ve covered Focus, Respect, and Openness, today it’s Courage.
I think Courage is hard to define, as engineers we’re often courageous when picking up a new piece of work. We don’t always know how we’re going to solve a particular problem but we’re using to trusting in our own abilities and our support network to accept a task even when ambiguity and risk exists. There may be easier backlog items, ones which we know we’d be able to complete but we prioritise the most valuable, not the easiest.
Courage in my opinion manifests in a couple of ways. One of the responsibilities of any Scrum Developer is to hold each other accountable as professionals. This often isn’t easy, especially when the other developer is more experienced or senior than we are. If we believe that a particular course of action is the correct one it takes real bravery to speak up and make sure our point of view is heard. To understand why this is so important read 5 Dysfunctions of a Team!
It can also take courage to share our own weaknessess or concerns. But it’s this transparency which is so important for Scrum Teams to function effectively. If team members are afraid to share risks then they will most likely go ignored and the Sprint will fail.
Throughout this series on values I have referred to a blog post by Steve Trapps. He has posted a series of questions around the Scrum Values which can help you assess how strongly you live the values of scrum. For Courage his questions are:
I work on the next highest priority Product Backlog Item (I do not cherry pick the work I pick up in the Sprint)
If I see something that is wrong with what I’m being asked to do, I will say so.
I will question & reproach my team members if I feel that they are doing something wrong.
Regardless of the person talking, I will correct them if I believe that they are incorrect.
I will stand firm if I believe I am right, even if I’m in the minority within the group.
Do you think these are good questions to assess a team member’s courage? Do you believe you are courageous at work? Drop a comment below or contact me on social media to continue the conversation.
I am writing about the Scrum Values and this week it’s the turn of Openness. Being open with each other and our stakeholders is key for the success of a Scrum Team. Scrum is built on Empirism which in turn has pillars of Transparency, Inspection, and Adaption. Without Openness there is no Transparency and the whole framework comes crashing down. Lets dive into this a little deeper to explain what I mean.
In Scrum we constantly inspect our progress, we do this at least once per day using our Daily Scrum within the Sprint and then again at each Sprint Review as we examine our progress against the Product Goal. The purpose of this is to detect any issues early and adapt our plan to ensure we can meet our goal despite the problems which arise. Transparency is vital to this inspection, if we do not make efforts to make our work and current challenges transparent then we will not be able to inspect or adapt. This puts the entire team’s long term goals at huge risk.
As Scrum Team Members we must value Openness and Transparency. This allows our colleagues to support us, it also allows Stakeholders to engage and steer the team to providing true value for the customer. If we are not open with our work or our concerns then we will blunder into making mistakes which could have been avoided.
In previous posts I’ve referred to Steve Trapps’ excellent blog post about Scrum Values. In it he asks key questions which lets Scrum Team members assess their own levels of Openness, these are:
I do not shy away from telling difficult news to team members and stakeholders
I do not hide away difficult issues in the hope that they will sort themselves out.
If something / someone is annoying me I will address it / tell them.
My colleagues can judge what state of mind I’m in, I can share my feelings with my them.
I always say the true state of an item, and do not over/under play it.
How many of these questions can you truthfully answer yes? Are you building a safe environment so your colleagues can be open with you?
Look for Openness on your teams and evangalise it yourself, the results speak for themselves.
I listen with equal intensity regardless of who is talking.
When listening to people I never talk over them.
I value everyone’s opinion equally.
I am never concerned who works on what item in the backlog.
I feel that my opinion is respected and that I have an equal say in the team.
Respect is key in a Scrum Team. A good team is diverse and brings together different people with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. People can only work effectively if they feel safe to share their own points of view. If you haven’t already I strongly recommend reading 5 Dysfunctions of a Team as a great fable about why this is so important.
If we want to work well as a team it’s important we can engage in constructive conflict without making people feel vulnerable and worried that their ideas will be ridiculed. We all need to take responsibility for creating a team where respect for each other is paramount.
Of all the Scrum Values this is the one I believe is the most important. Great teams can adapt and rise to meet challenges, however a great team cannot exist without mutual respect between the team members and between the team and it’s stakeholders. Reinforce respect and you’ll build a strong team who can achieve great things.
How do you nurture respect in your team? What do you feel when working in a respectful environment? Let me know in the comments below.
The next topics I want to discuss are the Scrum Values, these are Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect and Courage. Or as I remember them Focus, Respect, Openness, Courage, and Commitment. I find the values some of the hardest parts of scrum. Not because I disagree with any of the values – I find them all admirable and praiseworthy but because I find them harder to measure. Its easy to see whether a team is running Daily Scrums, its less clear whether they’re displaying courage!
Whilst working on a story I do not get distracted.
If I am not enjoying the work in a story I still give it the attention it needs.
When enjoying working on a story I will not over work a story just to prolong it.
I do not procrastinate when working on a story.
As soon as the story is ready to move into a new state, I will tell my colleagues and either hand it over or ensure that they know it is ready to pick up.
I think these are very valuable questions to ask yourself and your team to assess whether you are living the values which help support Scrum.
When Scrum Team Members focus on their work it helps the entire team achieve it’s Sprint Goal. This in turn moves progress towards the Product Goal and helps the Product Owner deliver real value to the customers. However, if team members are not focused, if they are distracted by endless emails or shiny opportunities then they often fail to deliver and the Scrum Team has to replan frequently.
It is everyone’s job as Scrum Team members to help reinforce focus wherever we can. To avoid distracting each other and to collaborate in a non-intrusive and distracting way. We should empower our developers to work autonomously and focus in a way which works best for them. For some people that means at home, for others that means in an office surrounded by people to collaborate with.
Keep focus in mind and always look for ways to encourage it both within yourself and within the team.