The Real Meaning of the Courage Value

Last post 02:51 pm July 23, 2018
by Austin Petrie
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04:04 am July 20, 2018

Hey all,

I recently learned that the line in the Scrum Guide, "The Scrum Team members have courage to do the right thing" has nothing to do with doing the right thing morally. Since I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else in the forums, I figure I might as well make a quick post about it just in case anyone else is confused by this.

From my understanding after watching some videos and reading some articles, the value really means having the courage to build the right thing. Building the right thing means inspecting your product & the marketplace and building a product that people actually want, as well as avoding building things that people don't want.

Please feel free to chime in on this and let me know if I'm misinterpreting anything I've said in this post!

10:59 pm July 20, 2018

Is there a reason why it can't be both? Isn't building the right thing the morally right thing to do?

As a software engineer, when it comes to ethical discussions, I tend to turn to things like the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice jointly published by the IEEE Computer Society and the ACM, the ACM Code of Ethics, and a few others.

Building the right thing - consider that it is possible that all people are stakeholders to a software system (not just the paying customer and the user), to avoid or disclose harm that may come from the creation and use of software systems, addressing concerns about software systems and how they may be used, respecting privacy and dignity of stakeholders - are common themes in these ethical codes.

But the way that you build the thing - respecting your colleagues, being honest and not deceptive to your client or employer (with respect to skills and abilities, cost, schedule, or functionality), improving yourself and supporting your colleagues to improve professionally - is also commonly discussed.

I think that saying that Scrum Teams have the courage to do the right thing means that a Scrum Team, as a team, can address concerns and behave ethically. This is not only in the product that is being built, but also the way that it is built and the way that the team interacts with others.

Outside of software, other industries may also have codes of ethics or codes of professional practice. Although I'm not familiar with them, I would suspect that they include similar concepts about the work that is done, the way that the work is done, and the interactions between people involved.

01:27 am July 21, 2018

Courage to face the change of the market.

Courage to put the unfinished Items back to Product Backlog.

Courage to accept the opinions of the stakeholders.

Courage to conduct the inspection and adjustment.

Courage to handle all kinds of disputes and obstacles within the team.

Courage to do anythings that might help the team and the organization.

08:53 am July 21, 2018

We show courage in not building stuff that nobody wants. Courage in admitting requirements will never be perfect and that no plan can capture reality and complexity. Courage to consider change as a source of inspiration and innovation. Courage to not deliver undone software. Courage in sharing all possible information (transparency) that might help the team and the organization. Courage in admitting that nobody is perfect. Courage to change direction. Courage to share risks and benefits. Courage to promote Scrum and empiricism to deal with complexity. Courage to let go of the feint certainties of the past. We show courage to support the Scrum Values.

 - Gunther Verheyen, There's value in the Scrum Values

01:59 am July 22, 2018

Thanks for all the input! Those all seem like great things to keep in mind when thinking of courage. It definitely has proven to me to be a much more complex value than it appears at first glance.