What is Professional Scrum?

Scrum was developed to help people and teams solve complex problems. The framework is a simple yet powerful way to bring order to complexity through learning. It does it by providing frequent opportunities for inspection and adaptation. But to be effective with Scrum requires something more than just following the mechanics of the framework: It requires professionalism.

Ken Schwaber - the co-creator of Scrum and Scrum.org founder - describes a professional as someone who works for money and follows established rules for the profession. He also adds that to be a professional means embracing a set of ethical standards. These standards both unify members of a profession and define that profession to the outside world, as does the Hippocratic Oath for the medical profession.

Building upon that description of professionalism, four additional elements are key to achieving Professional Scrum:

  • Discipline. To be effective with Scrum requires discipline. Discipline is hard and may at times seem unfair as your work exposes problem after problem and your efforts seem in vain.
    • Deliver to gain learning; you have to do the mechanics of Scrum
    • Challenge preconceived ideas about your skills, role, and understanding of the problem
    • Work in a transparent and structured way
  • Behaviors. The Scrum Values were introduced in the Scrum Guide in 2016 in response to the need for a supportive culture that would enable Scrum Teams to be successful. The Scrum Values describe five simple ideas that when practiced encourage an agile culture.  Together, they describe behaviors that both Scrum Teams and the organizations they work within should exhibit.
    • Courage
    • Focus
    • Commitment
    • Respect
    • Openness
  • Value. Scrum Teams work on problems that, when solved, deliver value to customers and stakeholders. But the relationship is complex because the problems are complex: customers might not know what they want, or the economics of the solution might be unclear, or the quality and safety of the solution may be unknown. The job of a Professional Scrum Team is to:
    • Work to the best of their abilities
    • Do the right thing for all these parties by delivering a solution that best meets their "customers" needs within the constraints that have been placed on them by other stakeholders and the organization 
    • Provide transparency about the work that is happening and planned
    • Have a healthy dose of curiosity to uncover the truth
  • Helping others. Scrum is a team activity, but one where each team is small. The team requires all of the skills and experience to solve the problems it is assigned. To be effective, Professional Scrum Teams must:
    • Work with other members of their community to learn new skills and share experiences
    • Bring back learnings to help their own teams
    • Help to scale the learning to others in order to continuously grow the community knowledge and understanding
    • Form professional networks in which ideas and experiences that help teams can be exchanged

Scrum.org training classes take the Scrum framework and put it in the context of professionalism, describing why many of these ideas make sense and providing ways to best understand Scrum through a combination of hands-on activities and instruction. No matter the Scrum.org course, our Professional Scrum Trainers provide practical advice for how you can master Scrum and become more professional. And that journey is long and never ends.

Read a blog from our CEO Dave West on Professionalism and its Relationship to Scrum