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5 Metaphors to Explore the Value of Scrum Values

June 20, 2017

"Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living these five values (Focus, Openness, Respect, Courage, Commitment)". - Scrum Guide

What makes a great team? Why do some teams achieve greatness, seeing their vision become reality, while others seem to go nowhere?

“The one thing you need to know about teamwork is that there is more than one thing you need to know about teamwork.” Inspired by John C. Maxwell's "Team," in this article, we will explore the value of Scrum Values through various metaphors and understand how shared values can help a Scrum team to become more connected and more effective. Scrum Values are like Glue, a Foundation, an identity, a compass, and a magnet for the Scrum Team. Let's explore each one of them.

Scrum Values Are Like "Glue"

The purpose of Glue is to bind similar or different materials together and resists their separation. The Scrum Values serve a similar purpose, keeping the Scrum team together.

If the Scrum Team is not practicing the Scrum Values, then their chances of working together as a unit and reaching their full potential are very small. Hence, Scrum Values act as the glue that keeps a Scrum team stuck together, not only when things are going well, but, most importantly, when things aren't going their way.

Scrum Values Are Like a "Foundation"

A Scrum Team needs a solid foundation to grow and promote sustainable development. The Scrum Values provide the stable foundation that makes this possible. For instance, when members of the Scrum Team respect each other and believe each other to be capable, independent people, it becomes easier to be open about all their work and the challenges associated with it. Having a good foundation offers them the courage to do the right thing and work together on tough situations and personally commit to achieving the Sprint goals. Thus, their relationship becomes stronger and they grow as a great team because now they have a solid foundation based on the Scrum Values.

Scrum Values Are Scrum Team's "Identity"

Author and management expert Ken Blanchard highlights, “Lots of companies claim they have a set of core values, but what they mean is a list of generic business beliefs that everyone would agree with, such as having integrity, making a profit, and being responsive to customers. Company values have meanings only when they are further defined in terms of how people actually behave and act."

Scrum Values guide the Scrum Team's behavior and actions by promoting professional behavior that supports the organization's vision and mission. Scrum Values are a Scrum Team's unique identity. Remember "What you believe identifies who you are." And when a Scrum Team believes in the Scrum Values it becomes their identity.

Scrum Values Are Like a "Compass"

Have you ever been part of a Scrum team that struggled hard to make any progress? In spite of having all the skills and opportunities, they just couldn't progress enough.

Without a Vision, people perish; great vision precedes success, however, having a vision alone is not enough if you haven't inspected it in light of your purpose.

So, how do you inspect it? How do you know that your Vision is worthy and compelling enough to drive people?

One of the great ways I've found is to have your compass handy. Every Scrum team needs one.

What is so unique about the compass?

Yes, you guessed it! It always points toward True North. Scrum Values act as a compass for the Scrum Team. When individuals embrace the Scrum values, they possess a moral compass that always guides them toward their Sprint goal, helps them stay together, and make right choices. When the Scrum team identifies and embraces Focus, Openness, Respect, Courage, and Commitment, they are on track to fulfill their purpose.

Scrum Values Are Like a "Magnet"

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the Law of Magnetism states, “Who you are is who you attract.” Attitude is one of the most contagious qualities we possess. Think about some of the teams you've been on. People with great attitude tend to make others around them feel more positive. Even if one of the members of the Scrum Team starts practicing the Scrum Values, it starts becoming contagious and creates more positive energy among the other members and soon the entire Scrum team wants to start practicing it. Scrum Values are like a magnet, once you start living them others can't stay away and are attracted to them, which helps to create a positive culture. A culture of Focus, Openness, Respect, Courage, and Commitment.

Summary: Scrum Values Add Value to the Scrum Team

Becoming a Better Scrum Master

  • Learn yourself first, then the Scrum Values: Self-awareness is the first step.
  • Start living the Scrum Values: Practice on yourself before teaching your team, it should become second nature, just like breathing.
  • Educate the Scrum Team: Bring together your Scrum Team to teach the Scrum values. Do it clearly, creatively, and continually.

  • Map the Scrum values with principles and practices: Alignment of the values and the behavior of team members raises the team’s energy and effectiveness.

  • Ensure your Scrum Team practices the Scrum Values: Values have no value if you don’t put them into practice.

Becoming a Better Team Member

Do you want to add value to your team and help it reach its potential? First, make sure that you know what the Scrum Values are. Commit to aligning yourself with them and practice them day-in-day-out.

I encourage you to commit yourself to the process of learning and living the Scrum Values to be a great team member and team builder.

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