Because Scrum doesn’t promote a rigid set of steps or practices, it’s well-suited to developing products in complex, unpredictable environments. Teams are free to self-manage and find ways to work together that best serve them (and the product). Scrum is anchored in cultivating an agile mindset, which can feel a little “free-floating” to new practitioners. That’s why the Scrum values are essential to maximizing the framework’s benefits. They help create a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, guiding the team toward better results and a more satisfying work experience.
I’ve written and talked a lot about the Scrum values over my consulting and coaching career because I’ve seen how they can galvanize teams to achieve their best work. I’ve also seen how they are often misunderstood. I hope this article will provide an easy way for readers to learn about the importance of the Scrum values and find helpful links to other Agile Socks posts for those who want to dive deeper.
The Scrum Values
Successfully applying the Scrum framework depends on supportive relationships and collaboration. The five Scrum values give the team direction regarding their work, actions, and behavior. They include focus, openness, courage, commitment, and respect.
Let’s take them one at a time.
Developing focus enables the team to hone in on the necessary work to achieve the Sprint Goal. Rather than tackling a list of arbitrary tasks all at once, we determine together what piece of value to tackle first before moving to the next thing we want to accomplish. Having focus benefits work in complex environments because it helps cope with both competing priorities and uncertainty.
The value of openness permeates every aspect of Scrum practice. It involves being willing to recognize and admit when we’re wrong and need to change direction. Being open allows team members to offer and ask for help and be receptive to feedback and opinions. Openness is the hallmark of transparency, which is necessary for making progress.
We need courage to try new things, hold each other accountable, admit when we don’t know how to do something or need help. Embracing the Scrum value of courage allows us to risk failure when trying bold new approaches and enables us to say “no” when someone requests we cut corners or take on work that won’t add value to the product.
People sometimes misunderstand commitment as the team’s promise of deliverables by a specific date. That is neither Scrum nor the meaning of commitment. This value concerns our dedication to the team's success and practicing Scrum to its fullest with discipline, which means measuring success based on valuable outcomes and upholding quality standards. It’s about taking our work seriously and living up to our potential.
There are innumerable ways that the value of respect shows up in the Scrum framework. Scrum Team self-management and accountabilities are based on respect for the knowledge and capabilities of team members. Respect allows us to resolve issues amicably with fellow team members. It facilitates honest communication and creates an environment open to diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills.
Living the Scrum Values
It’s essential for everyone on the Scrum Team to have a common understanding of what the Scrum values mean for them and their work together. But that’s just the first step. As with anything else involving human behavior and interaction, enacting the Scrum values every day isn’t always easy.
Scrum Values: more than a “nice to have”
The authors of the Scrum Guide decided to include a discussion of the Scrum Values because they help create the necessary conditions for implementing the Scrum framework— a culture of trust, collaboration, and continuous improvement. By embracing the values and practicing them daily, Scrum Teams can maximize the benefits of Scrum to realize better outcomes.
Coaching with the Scrum Values Mini-Guide
Create more impact by learning to use the Scrum values in your team coaching. My FREE mini-guide will show you how.