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 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.
When I saw a copy of The Advantage on the shelf at the airport I picked it up straight away. I read Five Dysfunctions of a Team a few years ago and considered it leadership gold. Learning about organisational health from the same author, sign me up!
I’m disappointed to say that for me, The Advantage just didn’t hit the same high notes. Despite only being 216 pages the book took me around eighteen months to complete and that’s simply because I wasn’t engaged and I felt I had to force myself through the final few sections.
The early part of the book recovers a lot of the same ground as Dysfunctions, I have no problem with that. Creating a leadership team who feel safe and can operate together as a team is no doubt a key part. Then we moved onto organisational values, both desired and acididental. I found that part quite interesting but when we moved onto creating and reinforcing clarity I drifted and drifted.
It’s quite possible I missed the point, the book is highly rated on Goodreads so many people have clearly got a lot from it. Unfortunately, this won’t be one I pick up and re-read again in a hurry. I will however go away and try to define my teams’ values – I grant, that’s a very valuable exercise!
Have you read The Advantage? Do you disagree with me? Let me know either on Twitter or in the comments, I’m always happy for someone to point out something I’ve missed!