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October 13, 2011 / KaTe

Scrum Values – the forgotten core

Some time ago I witnessed an „excerpt” of an approach to change organizational culture of a company. At that time I did not believe it was possible – at least not in the next 5 years. I really hope it will be possible, since people trying to drive it are skilled and motivated to do so. Researching where did that culture come from, I stumbled upon non-existent company values. There was a document of some sort, that was supposed to be a statement of values, but it was far from it. And what was the most absurd in this situation was that nobody was aware that it existed! I found it going through some pointless click-through on-line ethics course as a new employee.
It got me thinking though, how important are company values to employees.
Looking at other companies I worked with, stated values make a difference. Values are the thing that glue people together. Values are a basis for understanding if we would be able to be friends with a certain person or if we want to be employed in a certain place. They also make Agile possible and create XP. In a well-designed organization values are something that a vision and mission statements are derived from, they create culture, they set that certain type of people that we want to keep in our business.

So why are we forgetting about values when talking about Scrum? It took me quite some time to find what those values are. In XP it’s even in the Wikipedia, and in Scrum – they are not even included in the Scrum Guide. I’m not really surprised that big organizations have trouble adapting Scrum and understanding the logic behind it if we are not stressing the values and not explaining them. So what are they really?

These are ones I found ( http://www.newtechusa.com/agileboston/notes/ScrumValues.htm ):

Respect – acting respectfully towards anyone you’re working with, including yourself
Commitment – taking your commitments seriously, going forward, improving
Focus – have your attention on one goal, don’t get distracted, improve
Courage – speak your mind, inspect and adapt, don’t be afraid to change and experience
Openness – everyone is included in an honest discussion

These values give some logic to how Scrum should be treated. But since we kept forgetting about them for some time and Scrum went on – evolved, changed, even opened for the community, we should alter those values a little. This is my view on those:

Respect – respecting everyone around is key – without it we wouldn’t be treated as professionals
Courage – speak up, express, experience – one leg of inspection and adaptation
Trust – this is the second leg of inspection and adaptation – without trust, courage might not be enough
Responsibility – not accountability – it’s a natural quality of a person who chooses to act on a problem not laying blame and seeking excuses
Purpose – maybe it’s not exactly a value, but to be proficient a team or a person has to know or feel the purpose of what he/she is doing

What do you think about it? Is it worth adding to the Scrum Guide? Comment or tweet about this – @kateterlecka

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One Comment

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  1. Marcelo R. Lopez, Jr. / Dec 23 2011 6:43 pm

    Kate….I think you’re on to something. And frankly, when speaking about top-down mindset change, it’s absolutely CRUCIAL that these values get absorbed.

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