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Maximize Scrum with the Scrum Values: Courage (Part 3 of 5)

March 27, 2017

This is the third in a five-part series about the Scrum values.   These values are focus, openness, courage, commitment, and respect.  It takes more than just knowing what they are.  Achieving the benefits of Scrum requires that people and teams understand what they mean, how to apply them, and how to recognize them.

Courage is essential in solving complex problems and growing high performing teams.

Courage facilitates empiricism and collaborative teamwork.

  • It takes courage to be transparent about progress under pressure to deliver more faster.  
  • It takes courage to NOT show our stakeholders undone work.
  • It takes courage to ask for help or admit we do not know how to do something.
  • It takes courage to hold others accountable when they are not meeting commitments to the team.
  • We may discover we built something our customers don't want.  It takes courage to admit our assumptions were wrong and change direction.
  • It takes courage to try to build something we've never built before, not knowing if it will work or not.
  • It takes courage to share a dissenting opinion with a team member and engage in productive conflict.
  • It takes courage to admit our mistakes.  This could apply to our technical work, our decisions, or how we conduct ourselves.

The Scrum framework includes elements that help promote courage.

  • Every Scrum event is an opportunity to inspect and adapt.  This built-in assumption that it's okay to change direction enables courage.  We can change direction regarding what we are building.  We can change direction regarding how we are building it.
  • The timebox of a Sprint limits the impact of failure to the length of a Sprint.  This gives us courage to try new things, to experiment, to learn.
  • The three Scrum roles and their distinct accountabilities promote courage.  The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product, so she can demonstrate courage by saying "no" to low value features.  The Developers are accountable for instilling quality by adhering to a Definition of Done, so they can demonstrate courage by saying "no" to cutting quality under pressure.
  • We are transparent about our planned work through both the Sprint Backlog and Product Backlog.  We are transparent about our progress by showing the completed Increment to our stakeholders.  Transparency takes courage, and transparency helps us build trust.  The more trust we have, the more courage we find.  It's a virtuous cycle.  
  • The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to inspect ourselves as a Scrum Team and identify actions for improvement.  This enables courage to bring up issues with how we are working together.  This enables courage to try new things, to want more.

These are just a few examples of how the Scrum value of courage lives within a Scrum Team to help them maximize the benefits of Scrum.  There are many more.  Teams need to continuously and collaboratively refine what these values mean for them in order to truly maximize Scrum.

Download the Coaching with the Scrum Values Mini-Guide

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