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5 Scrum Values: A Practical Guide to Implement Them (and Boost Productivity)

ranjalir profile image Ranjali Roy Originally published at zepel.io ・7 min read

Scrum values aren’t as popular as they ought to be. In fact, most scrum teams treat these values as a mere poster on the wall. But here is what they don't realize.

In neglecting scrum values, the team's performance takes a big hit. From failed sprints to buggy software being deployed, the lack of these values has a major role to play.

But before we plunge into the 5 scrum values, let’s lay the foundation for it with a quick recap on scrum.

What is scrum? A quick recap

Scrum is an agile framework that aims to help teams address complex problems. With this framework, development teams can create, manage, and quickly deliver valuable solutions.

These usable product iterations called sprints are time-boxed to 1-4 weeks. In fact, in most cases, teams use a sprint duration of just 2 weeks.

Take a look at this article to dig into the basics of Scrum: Definitive guide to scrum sprint

Scrum values by the Scrum Guide

Let's rewind to July 2016. This was when the founders, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, included scrum values as an update to the Scrum Guide - the holy book of scrum. They had the following 3 reasons behind this update:

  1. To help teams better adopt scrum
  2. To add value to the business
  3. To create a more ethical workplace built on trust

So, what are the scrum values anyway?

The 5 scrum values to embody

Let’s dive right in…

1. Commitment

“People personally commit to achieving the goals of the Scrum team.”

The difference between a good team and a great team lies in the commitment expressed by each team member. This commitment takes many forms - one that's shown to the team, its goals, and to the work.

A team's commitment is evident in its collaborative efforts and essential to its progress; the greater the commitment, the faster the progress. Ultimately, this builds trust that helps your brand resonate with its ideal customers.

To apply this value, commit yourself only to realistic-goals that you can fulfill - no more, no less. Because it is easy to give-in and commit to high expectations. But achieving the scrum team’s goals? That’s critical.

Example: You’re the product owner. You’re in a product planning discussion with one of your customers. You are now faced with an important decision to make.

You can either choose to commit to more tasks to impress the customer and end up under-performing. Or you can only commit to those realistic tasks and deadlines your team can achieve. You choose the latter as delivering limited items of high quality will both please your customer and boost your team’s performance.

Giving your word is simple but keeping it and accomplishing what’s promised is tough. And when you’re neck-deep in getting things done, it can sometimes feel impossible to keep track of what’s done and what’s pending.

To ease this up for you, Zepel has a separate tab to track all tasks assigned to you. This way you can check them all without fretting about missing something out.

Commitment - Scrum Values in Zepel

As a bonus, you get to group them based on features or due dates. You can also sort them based on alphabetical order, estimates, or due dates.

2. Focus

“Everyone focuses on the work of the Sprint and the goals of the Scrum team.”

Achieving any goal requires having all eyes on the target. Likewise, achieving a sprint needs unwavering focus. Remember to concentrate on accomplishing the tasks in the sprint backlog only. Don't let those in the product backlog shatter your focus.

Here's a helpful article explaining the difference between a sprint backlog and product backlog.

To fulfill this value, turn on your laser focus mode. Direct it towards checking off those limited, high priority tasks in the sprint backlog. And avoid making last-minute changes to it.

Example: Say you’re the product owner. One of your customers wants a new, but small functionality. Your current sprint is due for release in 3 days and your dev team says it can be done in 2 days.

It can be tempting to squeeze this into your current sprint and delight that customer. But you politely refuse and explain how the addition of the feature at this juncture will deter your team's focus. Because you know that they're already working on a tight deadline.

Adding a feature now will be akin to chasing two rabbits and catching none, thereby jeopardizing the sprint.

If you’re able to set time estimates to complete tasks, wouldn’t it help you prioritize tasks with context? Additionally, if you could set priority to tasks, wouldn’t it help you focus better? It certainly helped me out.

Scrum Value Focus using priorities and estimation points in Zepel

Using Zepel, you can set estimates for items. You can also fix priorities for each work item using simple hashtags - #low, #medium, #high. This way you can stick to completing your sprint backlog without getting distracted.

3. Courage

“The Scrum team members have the courage to do the right thing and work on tough problems.”

Undertaking complex problems, planning sprints, and deploying each sprint in tight schedules - all go into building a product using scrum framework.

This often involves making difficult but right decisions bundled with managing risks, all of which require courage. What also takes courage, apart from this, is to be accountable for your mistakes and to decline impractical requests.

To implement this value, remind yourself daily that you must be courageous. You must be bold to:

  • accept risky challenges
  • make ethically-driven decisions
  • say no to unreasonable expectations
  • own mistakes
  • handle failures

Example: Let’s assume that a mistake, made by one of the developers, has led to the failure of the sprint. Now you, as the scrum master, show courage by taking responsibility for your team and owning the mistake. This inspires the rest of your team to be courageous and honest. Isn’t that a symbol of a good leader?!

It takes only a moment to get carried away with the urge to meet unrealistic targets. But you must remain grounded and not deviate from set priorities unless it’s practical.

To help you decide whether to courageously take on more tasks or boldly decline them, Zepel has a sprint progress chart. You can assess your ongoing sprint’s progress using the burnup and burndown charts.

Courage Scrum Value using Sprints in Zepel

This feature can be particularly handy for a scrum master, who has to be up-to-speed with the progress and keep it in check.

4. Openness

“The Scrum team and its stakeholders agree to be open about all the work and the challenges with performing the work.”

Openness is an ideal way to make sure that everybody – from a team member to the customer – is on the same page.

For this purpose, teams following scrum framework maintain a transparent product and sprint backlog. As a result, the end product would check all the boxes for the customer and therefore earn their approval. Moreover, being transparent regarding your progress and challenges aids in gaining the customer's trust and confidence.

To actualize this value, don’t hesitate to openly share details of your actual progress, issues faced, and mistakes made. This creates space for you and your team to help each other out.

Also be open to sharing your honest opinions, receiving constructive feedback, and making realistic changes. In doing so, you will not only bring out what’s best for the product but also the best in you.

Example: Imagine you’re a developer in the team and you’re working on a feature. But to wrap up your feature, you’re reliant on your teammate to complete a task. If your teammate is unaware of this dependency, your feature could get delayed.

Achieving this openness can be a challenge when everybody is buried in their individual commitments. In such situations, keeping each other informed of dependencies isn’t practical and most often forgotten.

So, how can these complexities be managed?

To tackle them, Zepel allows you to add dependencies and to couple one item with another. You can set an item’s dependency as either - ‘Related to’, ‘Blocks’, or ‘Blocked by’. This way, your team can work around dependencies efficiently.

Openness Scrum Value using Scrum Board in Zepel

Of course, you can view these dependencies everywhere in Zepel. This way, any team member can quickly open up your Scrum Board and see each other's progress. Or you can use advanced filters to slice and dice your scrum board tool to view the progress of a specific team member or more!

5. Respect

“Scrum team members respect each other to be capable, independent people.”

Would you like it if you weren’t respected as a capable individual? And not trusted enough to execute tasks without supervision? I’m sure it’s a hard no.

Although respect is a basic need, most often it is overlooked. So to maintain an ethical work environment, ensure mutual respect exists in the team.

To demonstrate this value, bear in mind that a team consists of unique individuals with unique opinions, skills, and ways of working. Their originality will prove to be your team's biggest asset. Also, keep regular checks to ensure that everybody feels respected in every way.

Example: Say you’re a scrum master managing a team of developers. You respect your team by holding regular scrum ceremonies to get everyone’s inputs. And you trust them by avoiding constant check-ins apart from the ones you have in your daily standup.

Importance of scrum values - 5 reasons

If you're still on the fence about scrum values, I've got 5 reasons for you on why you should implement them right away.

  • Scrum values promote shared responsibility, active involvement, and individual accountability
  • They act as a guiding framework and a moral compass in decision-making
  • They enable teams to collaborate better and work towards one common goal - a successful sprint
  • Scrum values ensure that complete transparency prevails in the team
  • They help in building teams based on trust and respect

Go ahead and stick these values on your desk, save them as your desktop wallpaper, or even by-heart them. But vow to live by them.

Or you could have it easy with an agile tool that supports scrum.

If you’re wondering which tool to opt for, we’ve done the research for you. Here’s a list of the top agile tools that support scrum to help you choose the tool that best fits your team.

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