February 17, 2020

Maximizing Product Value Through Scrum Values

Delivering and maximizing value is a complex undertaking in which Scrum Teams learn and create value through an empirical process based on transparency, inspection and adaptation. Empiricism comes to life when the people on a Scrum Team share and live values that promote transparency, inspection and adaptation – and when their stakeholders encourage these values. Without these values, empiricism will remain superficial and the value delivered will likely remain below expectations.

That’s why the values of courage, commitment, focus, respect and openness were made explicit with the 2016 update of the Scrum Guide:
 

When the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life and build trust for everyone. […]” – The Scrum Guide


Through our work we experienced that people rarely challenge these values, which is understandable given their general and positive nature. Who would argue that these values aren’t helpful, right? At the same time, we see teams and their stakeholders struggle to realize how directly connected these values are to their work, collaboration, decisions and the resulting value.

That’s why we were looking for a way to help Scrum Teams and their stakeholders reflect more deeply on the relevance of these values. The result is an exercise which we use both in training and coaching Scrum Teams and their stakeholders.

If you use this exercise, please leave a comment here and share your experience.

 

Material needed:

  • sticky notes
  • markers
  • flipchart paper or whiteboard

 

Exercise part 1:

  1. Ask participants to write down each Scrum value on a separate sticky note. Shuffle the notes and put them upside-down.
  2. Ask participants to write down elements of Scrum on separate sticky notes. Ask them to share their notes, add missing elements and remove duplicates. As the facilitator you can add elements that you consider important. Shuffle the notes and turn them upside-down. Here are some examples: Sprint Goal, Increment, "done", value, technical debt, transparency, inspection, adaptation, trust, Scrum roles, Scrum events, Scrum artifacts, Scrum values
  3. The facilitator presents this question on a flipchart or whiteboard: "If the value _<value>_ was 10 times more present, how would that help _<element>_?"

 

Exercise part 2:

  1. Participants pick a random sticky note from their “value” notes and a random sticky note from their “element” notes.
  2. Participants put the selected sticky notes onto the placeholders on the flipchart or whiteboard and read the complete question, e.g., “If the value respect was 10 times more present, how would that help the ‘done’ Increment?”
  3. Participants reflect on the question and share their thoughts. If beneficial, the facilitator invites participants to dig deeper, e.g. by asking “What if we don’t respect the definition of done”? The random combination of values and element makes the exercise varied and leads to some unexpected insights.
  4. Participants start over at step #1 as many times as the timebox allows or they find valuable. 
  5. Participants summarize their key take-aways from this exercise. In a Sprint Retrospective they could use them as input to improvements for their next Sprint.

 

Scrum Values Exercise

 

Variation:

The question presented above works very well in coaching and was suggested by one of my fellow Scrum trainers. Here’s our original question that we found to work better in training: “If the value _<value>_ was missing, how would that impact _<element>_ ?”.

 

Facilitation tips:

  • You can use the 1-2-4-all Liberating Structure for step 2 of “exercise part 1”.
  • Steps 3 and 5 of “exercise part 2” may also benefit from a 1-2-4-all.
  • When working with a larger group, ask them to break out into smaller groups and run this exercise in parallel. These groups can share their findings through a “Shift & Share” or “Fishbowl” Liberating Structure.

 

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