March 27, 2018

COMMON SENSE: THE INFORMAL SCRUM VALUE

Common SenseWhen coaching for organizations, I am often met at the doors of the cathedral by exasperated management.  Frustrated for how Scrum is transformed to meet personal agendas and bias.  They have important questions such as, can management communicate release dates to the development team? The development team has instructed management that release dates are estimates and infringes on their ability to self-organize. I have a one-word answer – bogus!  Building a product is a major investment.  Don’t expect management to invest limited resources, possibly millions of dollars, without some expectation of when the work will be done.  I wouldn’t!

Scrum should never end in tears.  I have found that an “uncommon sense” implementation of Scrum can lead to many problems.  The Scrum framework is a practical tool to solve complex problems iteratively and incrementally while delivering a product of high value that excites the customer. For that reason, I am now proposing a new Scrum value – common sense.

SCRUM VALUES

Here are the formal Scrum values:

  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Courage
  • Respect

The Scrum values help you make the correct Scrum decision if the answer is not expressly indicated in the Scrum Guide. The empirical process model and the Scrum Guide help every Scrum practitioner in making excellent Scrum choices.  As a Scrum professional, I expect that you read the Scrum Guide regularly.  If not, go read it now! It was recently updated.

Scrum Values

This is a detailed explanation of the Scrum values.

  • Commitment: Commitment to the Scrum framework. Either you are doing Scrum; or not.  You cannot fudge Scrum.
  • Focus: Stay within the time boxes set in the Scrum Framework.  Repeat after me – “stay in the time boxes.”  This focuses your effort to prioritize and spend time actually developing working software instead of attending relentless meetings.
  • Openness: Respect diversity. For example, cross-functional teams are diverse by definition.  This is the reason that the Daily Scrum is not called the Daily Standup.  Not everyone can stand!  In the daily scrum, respect others’ need to sit, lay down, or run in place during the meeting. Openness also means being transparent, which is one of the pillars of empiricism. For example, being open to discussing problems.
  • Courage: Courage to be transparent and speak up when necessary. This is particularly important at the Sprint Retrospective.  Transparency builds trust and enhances collaboration.
  • Respect: Courageous does not mean yelling.  We need the courage to express our opinions but must do so respectfully.  Sometimes it is not what you say; but how you express a thought or opinion.

I am now officially proposing a new informal Scrum value – common sense.  This value would stop some of the worst abuses of Scrum framework known to humanity.

THE PARABLE

Here is a parable for using common sense.  There was a Scrum team in a faraway land that was nearing the end of a sprint.  Four days before the end, the business had a critical bug in production, which cost a half million dollars per day.  Yet, the Scrum team refused to fix the bug.  Why?  The Sprint goal is incontrovertible, and the Sprint was sooooo close to being finished.  For that reason, the team refused to fix the issue.  Two million dollars later the team finished the Sprint.  Does this make sense?  Of course, not!  The Scrum Guide provides this flexibility.  For two million dollars, the business could have purchased an entirely separate Scrum team to fix that production bug and had some dollars left over.

THE INFORMAL SCRUM VALUE

When doing Scrum, common sense provides essential guidance.  If your scrum decision lacks common sense, revisit the Scrum Guide.  You are probably making the wrong decision! The Scrum Guide is not just theoretical babble but created from the practical experience of Scrum professionals – most importantly Ken Schwaber.

Let us start a campaign to add common sense to the Scrum values as an informal Scrum value.  It has my vote!