Skip to main content

Scrum Team: What Is Your Inner Compass?

July 4, 2019

If you can create a vision for your Scrum Team, and you find them all aligned in the right direction, your work has a reasonably good chance at success.

Where is your Scrum Team's compass leading you?

Every single soldier must know, before he goes into battle, how the little battle he is to fight fits into the larger picture, and how the success of his fighting will influence the battle as a whole." - Bernard Law Montgomery, a great leader of troops during World War II

Have you ever been part of a Scrum Team that struggled hard making any progress? Team members had plenty of talent, required resources, and opportunities, but they just couldn't progress enough and create impact.  

If the above plot sounds familiar to you, there's a strong possibility that you might find reading this article valuable. 

A great vision precedes success, and a compelling vision provides the right direction to the team. 

If you are unaware of the team's vision, you can't act with conviction. If you haven't inspected the vision in light of your purpose, you can't even be sure that the team you are on is the appropriate one for you. If the team members have an agenda of working against each other, the team's spirit and drive gets lost. 

Conversely, a team that embraces a vision is more focused, energized, and committed. It knows the reason for its existence.

So, how do you inspect a team vision? How do you know whether it is worthy and compelling enough to drive people? 

One of the many good ways is by checking your compass. Every team needs one, in fact, every team might need several compasses.

In one of my previous blogs, we explored the inner compass of a Scrum Master. Now, it's time to explore the same for the Scrum Team. Inspired by the insight of John C. Maxwell, I am sharing with you the five "compasses,which can be great tools for the Scrum team to help them find the right direction. 

1. Moral Compass (Look Above)

Andrew Carnegie asserted that "A great business is seldom if ever built up, except on lines of strictest integrity." That holds true for any venture. There's only one true north. A moral compass brings integrity to the vision. It helps everybody on the team to inspect their intent and adapt their right behaviors.

2. Intuitive Compass (Look Within)

As Maxwell explains, "Where integrity brings fuel to the vision, passion brings fire." And the passion comes from within. James Kouzes and Barry Posner shared in The Leadership Challenge that "visions spring forth from our intuition. If necessity is the mother of invention, intuition is the mother of vision." Experience feeds our intuition and enhances our insight. 

3. Retrospective Compass (Look Back)

There is an old Indian saying, "Don't remove the fence before you know why it's there.You never know—there might just be a bull on the other side! 

People won't reach far until they have learnings from the past. Continuous experiments and learnings create a sense of psychological safety for the team, knowing that the current vision builds on the past and leads to the future. 

One of the emergent ways to look behind and recalibrate is by telling stories -- telling stories about the exciting things that are happening now among team members. And telling the story of what it will be like the day that the team fulfills the vision. 

Stories are like thumbtacks that help to keep a vision in front of people. 

4. Directional Compass (Look Ahead)

As we already discussed, vision provides direction for the team. Part of that direction comes from a sense of purpose, while another comes from having smart goals that align with the vision. Goals serve as great motivation for the team. 

NFL referee Jim Tunney said, "Why do we call it a goal line? Because eleven people on the offensive team huddle for a single purpose -- to move the ball across it."

5. Visionary Compass (Look Beyond)

Finally, the vision of the team must look beyond current circumstances and any obvious shortcomings of current situations to see the potential of the team.

Charles Noble says, "You must have a long-range vision to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures." 

One of the things about a far-reaching vision is that it brings "stretch" to the team. Without a challenge, many people tend to fall or fade away.


Someone once said that only people who can see the invisible can do the impossible. This shows the value of vision. If you can create the vision of your team inspired by these five "compasses," and you find them all aligned in the right direction, then your team has a reasonably good chance at success. 

Further reading

5 Key Collaboration Skills That Can Make Good Scrum Teams Great!


What did you think about this post?